June 26, 2019

Haredim Aren't as Poor as You Think

“Over half of the haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jewish) community lives below the poverty line, the figures say. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 53% of haredim are below the poverty line, the same proportion as in the Arab sector and much higher than the 9% poverty rate among non-haredi Jews. Average monthly per capita income in haredi society is NIS 3,500, half of the average for non-haredi Jews and only a little higher than in Arab society.

Despite these stark figures, a paradox exists. Haredim do not consider themselves as poor, nor do they behave that way. A new book of figures and research by the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs, reported here for the first time, shows that no less than 71% of the haredim are satisfied with their economic situation, compared with less than two thirds of the non-haredi Jews and 53% of the Israeli Arabs.

Furthermore, less than 8% of the haredim feel that they are poor, almost the same figure as for non-haredi Jews. On an index of general satisfaction with life, the figures show that an incredible more than 98% of the haredim report satisfaction with their lives.

It is not just a question of feeling. Less than 10% of the haredim had to go hungry occasionally because of a lack of money, compared with 5.6% of the non-haredi Jews and over 14% of the Arabs. The level of health in the haredi sector is one of the best in Israel. For example, the life expectancy among residents of Bnei Brak, a mostly haredi city, is almost the same as in Givatayim, even though Bnei Brak is one of the poorest cities in Israel.”

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