In Israel, some social activists issue calls to the government to boost its welfare provision. Others just write a cheque and hope to “embarrass” the government into changing its ways.
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, a mega-charity that collects £90 million a year from 1.4 million Christian donors, mostly in the US, has launched free dental care for the elderly, frustrated at the government’s failure to find the funds.
The IFCJ’s care programme is initially for the housebound elderly, but will be expanded, forcing the issue of dental care for the elderly into the public eye. “Our hope is that it will embarrass the government into taking this over in a couple of years,” said Yechiel Eckstein, the Orthodox-ordained US-Israeli rabbi who runs the charity.
There is precedent for this. In 2010, proposals to introduce free or low-cost dental care for children had been stuck for years. They were finally translated to law when Rabbi Eckstein said that if the government could not find the money, he would raise it from his donors.
Rabbi Eckstein said that while he was pleased about the impact his organisation has, he was saddened that the Jewish state was reliant on Christian donations for welfare services.
The IFCJ spends £16 million a year on welfare for Jews in the FSU, including in the Ukraine, where it runs two refugee camps and housing programmes for Jews affected by the violence.