Those ever-growing Ultra Orthodox who have many children and do not work – what is the Jewish community’s obligation to them, asks the Forward in a thoughtful piece.
The Forward looks at the issues of poverty by choice and the hypocrisy of using government programs ( welfare, food stamps) while voting against parties that advocate for them.
This tension has to be confronted if we are to wisely and morally consider how to parcel out precious communal resources to the poor. Important though it is to support those who study Torah and Talmud, it is even more essential for the community to care for the elderly, disabled and others who are poor not out of choice, but because of unfortunate circumstances. The moral claim goes first to those who are poor involuntary, and so should our dollars.
There are political ramifications, as well. The UJA survey prompted predictable responses by those on the Jewish right, who gleefully speculated that the growth in the Orthodox community would finally put a serious dent in the stubborn devotion of New York Jews to liberalism and the Democratic Party. That might happen. The rightward flank in just about any religious group in America tends to support more conservative social positions on abortion, same-sex marriage, parochial school choice and the like; Orthodox Jews are no different than evangelical Christians in this regard.
But those who cloak their political views in religious garb have an extra duty to be consistent. And they can’t be consistent if they rely on food stamps, Medicaid and day care subsidies and then vote for parties that are against government spending. They can’t expect the American taxpayer to support poor Jews and not expect equal support directed towards other destitute communities. Nor can they ignore the rampant economic inequality enabled by a political system that privileges the very rich.
My thoughts: like in any situation we cannot visit the sins of the parents upon the children. Children still deserve food, health care, adequate schooling, and freedom from abuse or neglect ( which is a problem in the Haredi community). So no matter what their parents do or say we must make sure they have these things. But that could also mean regulating schools that take any federal money to teach a curriculum that allows for gainful employment and removing children from neglectful homes.
But for other things Jewish community dollars should not go to those whose communities do not pay in.