Full-Time Rabbinical Students (4 July 2017, 10 Tammuz, 5777)
How do ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel manage to support a family with so many children in today's global world with rising living conditions and costs?
In some respects both the Arabs in Israel and the Hareidim have parallel economies to those of the mainstream.
Food and clothing cost less. Merchandise is sold in greater quantities at lower overheads and lower profit margins.
Hareidim live more modestly. There is less social pressure. They help each other.
Hareidi cities are run with more consideration in terms of transport etc., for those who lack their own vehicles.
Many Hareidim do work. The actual difference between the secular community and Hareidim in the numbers employed is 10% to 20%.
This is a significant disparity but not overwhelming.
Life in Israel can be difficult for everybody.
People who work also have difficulties. Businesses fail, jobs end or pay low wages, expenses arise from unforeseen directions, etc.
Religious Jews often tithe their income spreading what they have around to help those who are in need.
Among the Hareidim there is more mutual support socially, economically, and at the personal level. There is more trust, less crime, and less antagonism.
We are speaking in relative terms. No-one is claiming to have reached Utopia.
Not everything is cheaper and better. There are problems.
Hariedim pay more for education and other matters than the secular do.
Let us take an example of a case known to me.
Avi learns in a Kolel i.e. a yeshiva for married men.
His wife works in an office for a few hours every morning.
The earnings of his wife go towards paying part of the mortgage.
He was able to buy a house through a Government program by which Building Contractors receive contracts on condition that they sell (by lottery) to young couples a portion of the buildings at cost price.
Avi received the right to purchase a house at about a third of its market value. His extended family got together enough for the deposit and a mortgage did the rest.
The money he pays against the mortgage is about what rental would cost him.
The Government pays Child Allowance according to the number of children. This pays the school fees.
Medical costs in Israel are very low for everybody. Medication is not usually a problem though in some cases it can be.
Avi learns in two different frameworks for about 12 hours a day, five days a week. Altogether he gets paid by the places he learns in a total of about 700 dollars a month.
[This is assuming that payments are regular because sometimes they are not.]
Avi has a good number of children. Taking everything together enough money comes in from the above sources for ca. 60% of the basic needs for his family.
The rest comes from his parents and siblings not all of whom are Hareidi but they want him to learn. Avi is considered the equivalent of a soldier in the front lines learning for the survival of everyone else.
There are thousands like Avi. Each one has their own individual story. Some work part-time, some have businesses, etc. Some do not.
They do not all get by so well.
On the other had their situation is not necessarily any worse than that of their secular counterparts.
In Ancient Times there were Twelve Tribes of Israel.
The Tribe of Levi was dedicated to the service of God and was mainly supported by the other Tribes.
Avi and his fellows nowadays play a similar role.