Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman searched for creative ways to improve the budgetary situation while at the same time targeting the chareidi community. Two new decrees which will go into effect next month are set to cause significant hardship to chareidi families.

The first new budgetary amendment concerns child care subsidies which until now were given to families of Avreichim studying Torah. Lieberman plans to cut the subsidies and provide them to those who are “maximizing earning potential”. Although students studying for degrees are eligible for such subsidies, Avreichim studying in kollel will not receive subsidies even if their wives are working full-time. For many low-income families this is a serious additional expense.

The second amendment concerns disposable plastic, which is heavily used by large chareidi families as well as by yeshivas. Lieberman presents himself as a defender of the environment , although he has not placed new taxes on high-emission vehicles and factories. Lieberman deliberately chose to tax disposable items knowing that this would harm the chareidi public.

The new tax of 11 NIS for every kilo of disposable items will double the current price and many yeshivos and private individuals have been stocking up on disposable items before the tax takes effect on November 1st.

Journalist Yisrael Cohen explained that “yeshivos and chasidic groups use large amounts of disposable items.” Liberman had suggested that they use dishwashers but Cohen said this was not viable on Shabbos and for large institutions and families. “Imagine a shabbos meal with 30 family members, the woman needs to wash all of the dishes afterwards. Disposables have become a routine part of the chareidi community’s lifestyle.”

Cohen was asked why chareidim are not sensitive towards global warming issues. In response, he quoted a Haaretz article which demonstrated that they are the most green-conscious community in Israel since most do not have private cars and do not use any form of transport on Shabbat.