Emergency meeting to fight neglected welfare issues in 2016 budget

Newly launched Coalition for Social Reform demands government action

IFCJ FOUNDER and president Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein visits the elderly in Ashdod. (photo credit: Oren Nahshon)
IFCJ FOUNDER and president Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein visits the elderly in Ashdod.
(photo credit: Oren Nahshon)
authorities, directors of nonprofit organizations, representatives of the Social Workers’ Unions, and senior officials from the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel held an emergency meeting to discuss the upcoming budget in Kfar Hamaccabiah on Monday.
The participants launched the “Coalition for Social Reform,” the initiative of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, a Chicago- and Jerusalem-based organization that promotes understanding and cooperation between Jews and Christians.
The coalition is made up by organizations that provide aid to the weakest populations in Israel, and it intends to become the representative body for those populations and promote dealing with poverty on a political level through public pressure, monitoring implementation of state commitments and pointing out failures of the system and offering professional solutions.
After the meeting, the coalition released a call to the government to deal with the growing poverty in Israel. The coalition called for two new pieces of legislation to be formed, the first, a law to fight poverty, which would include measurable goals, the second, a social services law, that would ensure the right of every person to live with dignity and would require the government to guarantee everyone’s basic physical and psychological needs.
The coalition also called for the establishment of a national authority for fighting poverty, which would be in charge of implementing the report of the Committee for Fighting Poverty in Israel, a committee set up under the Welfare and Social Services Ministry.
The coalition called for changes in the budgeting system for local authorities, to expand funding for local authorities with low income.
Finally, the coalition called for an increase in three benefits for the poor; an increase in the subsistence allowances for seniors and people with disabilities, an increase in income supplement allowances and financial assistance for working families making low wages and expanding the options open to those eligible for public housing and increasing rent assistance for those eligible.
“For years those who are sitting here have been at the forefront of assisting the weak populations in Israeli society while the government is pushing itself further and further away from responsibility,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the IFCJ.
Eckstein said the organizations had come together to be the “social lobby” of those with no voice.
“Together we will cry out their cry and we will not allow the government to shirk its responsibility to make real change any longer.”