The Israeli government is celebrating its centennial by awarding the country’s first orphanage the title of “orphan” and giving it a $1.5 million grant, but many others are struggling to keep their doors open.
Many of the families have had to wait months or years for the funds to arrive.
The orphanage at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the David Shechterly orphanage on the outskirts of Jerusalem, received a $50,000 grant in April, according to the Israel Human Rights Committee.
That money is set to expire on August 31, but some families are hoping to extend the grace period until the end of the year.
Some are asking why they haven’t been able to secure their own funding for a year.
“There is no solution to this, it’s not a humanitarian issue,” said a mother of three in the Jerusalem suburb of Kiryat Arba.
The funding is being provided to help with a $4,000 emergency medical care package, including a special nurse for women and a special child care aide for families with young children, as well as medical treatment for children with chronic illnesses.
It was not immediately clear whether the money will be extended to the other 2,000 or so families in the orphanage.
The Israel Human Right Committee has been pushing for a federal government-funded orphanage program since it was established in 1994.
The committee, which advocates for children in need, said that the government is not paying enough for the services that need to be provided.
“The funds that have been allocated to the David Shelterly Center and the David’s Children’s Center have been spent on medical care and supplies, but no funding has been provided to families with children,” said committee member Yair Golan.
“The country needs to fund this for the foreseeable future, but the government refuses to do so.”
A number of Israeli-Arab groups have criticized the government’s decision, with the National Union for Civil Liberties saying that the funds should have been earmarked for hospitals and not for orphanages.
“We’re not talking about the $50 million, the $150 million that the Israeli government says it’s going to invest in the David shechterlies center, which is a humanitarian institution, but $1 million to the Jewish orphans and families that are suffering in Israeli prisons,” said Naim Baskin, a spokesman for the group.
“We’re talking about $1,000 a day per family for a few months.”
In the past, the government has offered grants to the Israeli Jewish communities to assist with the care of children, with a total of $30 billion being provided in the past 25 years.
The David Shecherly Center is one of the world’s oldest and largest centers for religious and cultural learning for children.
The center was founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1938 and is located in the northern part of the capital.
The current director of the center is Rabbi Shlomo Leibovich, who has been serving the community for 40 years.