Haredi Member of Knesset Rabbi Uri Maklev of the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism Party lashed out at Israel’s Economy Ministry for, Maklev claimed, discriminating against haredi families by deciding to require male heads of households to work at least 10 hours per week in order for the family to qualify for childcare subsidies.
Above: Member of Knesset Rabbi Uri Maklev
Haredi MK Attacks Economy Minister Over Daycare Subsidies Being Tied To Workforce Participation
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Haredi Member of Knesset Rabbi Uri Maklev of the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism Party lashed out at Israel’s Economy Ministry for, Maklev claimed, discriminating against haredi families by deciding to require male heads of households to work at least 10 hours per week in order for the family to qualify for childcare subsidies, Yeshiva World reported.
Most haredi men study full time in yeshiva and rely on a basket of government welfare benefits and subsidies, charity, and their wives’ income to feed their families.
“The abuse of working mothers by the minister of the Economy, and criteria that does not make sense results in these working mothers not receiving financial assistance for daycare centers and their homes. This results in her entire salary being used to fund daycare. It is interesting that the Ministry of the Economy fails to use judgment and logic like it does in matters of neglect” Maklev fumed during a Knesset session discussing a bill to ban or regulate dangerous toys. Maklev diverted the discussion to haredi daycare subsidies.
“Not only the dangerous toys but the bread and milk for the children too” must be ensured, Maklev insisted, noting that thousands of haredi women will no longer be eligible for state-funded daycare next year due to the work requirement imposed on their husbands.
“Mothers work to feed and support their families but the minister of the economy has announced new regulations setting new criteria for subsidy eligibility. While the goal is to encourage them to get out and work, the minister does just the opposite by withdrawing assistance. Is a working mother ineligible because her husband does not work? Does the Ministry of the Economy want to punish the husband by hurting the wife and children? At the end of the day the mother’s entire salary, [which is] often minimum wage, goes to finance daycare and nurseries for the children,” Maklev claimed.
The new military draft law will allow many haredim to get draft exemptions and go to work, rather than be compelled to study full time in haredi yeshivas in order to be exempt from the draft, as was the case previously.
This provision allowing haredi men to skip military service and join the workforce has been condemned by haredi leaders, who not only vehemently oppose their followers serving in the IDF, also quietly oppose their followers joining the workforce.
Officially, the reason for this opposition is that serving in the IDF or working both reduce the amount of Torah being studied by haredim.
Unofficially, haredi allegedly leaders fear that allowing their followers to leave yeshivas to work will reduce their loyalty to and dependence on the haredi community’s leadership and the charity dollars it controls.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reported that Economy Minister Naftali Bennett of the Zionist Orthodox HaBayit HaYehudi Party announced today that he would try to pass a bill that would give haredim a form of affirmative action with regard to Civil Service jobs.
In November, Maklev’s UTJ colleague MK Meir Porush proposed a similar bill. But it was defeated due to lack of government support.
At the time, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni of the Hatnua Party opposed Porush’s bill, insisting that noticeable lack of haredim in Civil Service jobs came from haredi “unwillingness to integrate into Israeli life” – i.e., join the IDF like all other Jewish Israelis and then join the workforce after that.
But today Bennett said it would be hypocritical of the government not to push for haredi employment in the public sector while it has called on private employers to hire haredi workers.
“I preach to employers the whole time: “Take haredim, it’s worthwhile for you. While with us in the public sector you simply don’t see haredim. Haredim I have spoken to say they have simply not been able to get work in public service even when they fulfill the criteria [necessary to be hired]. The public sector needs to understand the amazing abilities of this community and give them a boost,” Bennett said.
“The result will be more haredim working, less haredim unemployed. The more haredim integrate into society, the less prejudice they will face. In the end, all Israelis will benefit from this,” Bennett added.
Only 44.5% of adult haredi males of working age actually work. Instead, most opt to study in yeshivas for much, if not all, of their adult lives while subsisting on their wives’ income, welfare, government subsidies and charity.
On the other hand, 81% of all adult Israelis whatever their affiliation work.
Haredi men who are qualified for jobs still have greater difficulty getting hired than their non-haredi peers. Qualified haredi males get fewer responses to job applications, take longer than average to find jobs, and get paid lower than average salaries once employed, government research has found.
And only 1% of government and civil service employees are haredi while haredim make up about 8%-10% of Israel’s total population.
But the Ministry of the Economy also acknowledged that the vast majority of haredim lack the qualifications for holding many of these jobs.
Most haredi schools stop teaching secular subjects before Grade 8. Some teach no secular subjects at all and most who do teach some secular subjects do so late in the day, often with unqualified teachers and only for very brief time periods.
Haredi leaders have consistently opposed government attempts to compel haredi schools to teach math, English, civic and other secular subjects, calling the attempt a “war” against haredim.