Few Donations and Many Needy: Charities in Israel on the Verge of Collapse

Translated from the original Hebrew YNET article of June 10th:

June 20th, 2021 The crisis reduced donations by tens of millions of shekels, while more and more families went below the poverty line. The data from the charities is dismal, indicating their difficult situation; the recipients of assistance are worried.

Amit Shtainhart, wounded in an attack: “Beit HaLochem (a center for sports-rehabilitation and social activities for IDF disabled people and their families) is a place where I don’t have to explain myself”.

For more than a year the voluntary sector (also known as the “third sector”) has been struggling with the two opposite trends that could bring about its collapse. The economic crisis caused significant reduction in donations to charities and organizations, and on the other hand, brought a sharp rise in requests for assistance to the same charities. Together with this, Israel has had no working government for the two last years and accordingly, no budget – leading to suspension in normal operations and programs of the government welfare departments. Because of this, the needy part of the society became totally dependent on the charities, without being able to receive any reasonable response from the government.

The last three months were spent under the “back to normal” slogan. Many went back to work; tourist sites opened to visitors and restaurants became crowded with customers. On the face of it, the economy was supposed to have improved the situation of the needy as well, but the new data gathered by JGive organization, first published by “Yediyiot Aharonot” and Ynet, shows completely different findings: donations continue to dwindle, and charities are in real danger.

Shortfall in donations

“There is an immediate need in government programs that would encourage both the general public and businesses to donate,” – says Uri Ben-Shlomo, the Chairman of JGive organization.

“If the downward trend in donations continues till the end of the year, the hospitals will be overwhelmed and unable to provide rehabilitation services to the IDF disabled and in general.” – explains Avi Lerman, the Chairman of the IDF wounded soldiers, – “We’ve experienced a very sharp decline in donations from abroad, about 50%. It’s damaging to the IDF disabled and their families.”

One of those supported by the charity is Amit Shtainhart, 37, who was wounded at Mount Adar in 2017 (near Jerusalem). “A terrorist approached us and opened fire at close range. I was hit by two bullets, and three of my friends were killed on the spot,” – he explains. Today, four years later, Beit HaLochem is one of the most important places for him. “I have 10 different disability clauses, 71%, and practically don’t go out of the house because of post-trauma and because my immune system is down. Because of this, Beit HaLochem is such an essential place for me. It is one of the few places that I go to. There is a gym with special facilities that are set up for my needs by the medical team that supervises me. But Beit HaLochem is much more than that. It’s one of the few places I can go without the need to explain myself. We are all wounded there, all the same. It’s like an extended family. Most of our natural environment is unable to understand or deal with what we are going through. Going there is a getaway, a place of support, a brotherhood of soldiers. It’s of immense importance that Beit HaLochem continues to work for all of us.”

Amit Shtainhart

The donations situation affects those charities as well that support the needy, including families at risk and the elderly. The great fear of such charities is that a day may come when they will be unable to support the needy. “Tens of thousands of families that found themselves in financial need, and families that were already in need before the economic crisis and went deeper into poverty during the corona season, continue to face a difficult everyday reality; there is no working government and no budget to combat the poverty, and the insecurity of this situation that does not provide them with any answer, deprives them from living with dignity,” – explains Oren Vinterov, the head of “Latet” organization.

Simchah Asayag

Simchah Asayag, 53, married with four children, is being helped by “Latet” on a monthly basis. “I struggle to buy groceries on my own,” – she says, – “I buy each time only what I can afford for that week, according to my ability. The charity helps me monthly with the house needs.”

“The economical situation at home is not easy. We live on my husband’s salary and pay all our bills with it. We cut down accordingly; when we go shopping, there are so many things we can’t afford. If the help from “Latet” stops, it will hit us hard. Without this charity we will barely have enough money for bread and eggs, and not even considering thinking about other necessities.”