Shifting Ultra-Orthodox communities to self-sufficiency, from the inside out
In Israel, where poverty afflicts 57% of Ultra-Orthodox families, local charities are the most common support system to assist the most impoverished families with medical assistance, monthly stipends and more. With Orienting Towards Employment, JDC-TEVET has partnered with Kupat Ha’ir, the largest and most respected of these charities, to provide employment counseling and a wide array of social services to families in need.
Charity has always been, and will always be, a crucial piece to assisting poverty-stricken Ultra-Orthodox families. But as Rambam taught: the highest level of charity is teaching the needy to help themselves — or providing the fishing rods and not just the fish. After years of working closely within the Ultra-Orthodox community, JDC-TEVET was uniquely positioned to guide these charity funds towards sustainable solutions. And Orienting Towards Employment is the first step.
The partnership began in 2014, and thus far dozens of families who approached Kupat Ha’ir for help are receiving employment assistance. JDC-TEVET trains caseworkers who offer families employment counseling, which was never before a viable option for many of these families—and the menu of services offered is always expanding. Due to community stigma or lack of education, employment simply didn’t seem like a choice. Now, that attitude is changing.
JDC trains the caseworkers to create individualized employment plans as well as referrals to community employment programs. The caseworkers are counselors, guides, leaders and teachers to their client families.
Orienting Towards Employment not only assists families searching for a way out of poverty, but is establishing employment as a culturally-accepted reality in Ultra-Orthodox communities.