Reader disturbed by columnist’s assertions


Professor Sam Lehman-Wilzig‘s repetition of anti-ultra-Orthodox rhetoric in the June 7 issue is profoundly disturbing.

He would have us believe that only the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) in Israel have more than 2.1 children. He suggests that they have many children to avoid work to study Torah. (Obviously studying is a reprehensible act!)

In fact, the worldwide Orthodox community is growing, not just Israel’s haredim. The U.S.  Orthodox population is also growing, despite the professor’s assertion, “Israel is one of the few Western countries with a ‘positive’ birth rate.”

This wholesale condemnation of an entire group of people is biased and derogatory.

Regardless of a parent’s employment status, the stipend continues until children reach age 18. In comparing U.S. and Israeli economic data, it’s clear that Israel’s economy, even with the stipend, is stronger than ours.

Israelis use the stipend to supplement their other income. The stipend is not large: A family receives each month 175 NIS (shekels) ($43.75 U.S.) for the first child, 263 NIS for each of the second, third and fourth children and 175 NIS for the fifth child). Thus, a family of five children would receive 1,139 NIS ($284.75) each month. In fact, Israel’s poorest families get only 28 percent of their income from child stipends.

Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director general of Israel’s National Insurance Institute, reports that planned cuts in stipends would put another 30,000 to 40,000 children below the poverty line

Professor Lehman-Wilzig should verify his facts and do his research before he quotes unsupported and erroneous data.

Marilyn Shapiro