My hope is that people like Rabbi Berl Wein will increasingly make their voices heard. He is not the only Charedi Jew who thinks like that. As his anecdote shows, Charedim would clearly be willing to work except that it will hurt their reputations and thus their children’s Shidduch opportunities!
Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope. During my last visit to Israel I had a discussion with some young people about the dire poverty situation for Charedim. I was told by one individual that many rabbinic leaders had come into their town to discuss ideas of how to do better financially. This included better budgeting of finances, various investment strategies, and the proper way to use free loan associations. But none of the solutions included getting a job. One very bright young Charedi student asked, ‘Why isn’t that an option?’ ‘What’s wrong with working?’ This fellow is at the top of his very Charedi class in high school. Needless to say his high school never heard of Limudei Chol. The question was left hanging.
I think it is high time for the rabbinic leaders in America to speak up for their brethren in Israel. The answer is not to ‘Adopt a Kollel’ which was touted at the recent Agudah convention. That will not generate anywhere near enough money to alleviate the increasing poverty this community faces.Walking in lockstep with an educational formula that is ‘killing’ people in Israel does not do anyone any favors. As Rabbi Wein points out, we are ill served by rabbinic leaders who refuse to change the current miserable status quo. I could not agree more.
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