Herzog. Concerned about workers' well being
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Last week's haredi riots in capital
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Welfare minister: We will cooperate with haredim

Minister Herzog secretly visits ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood to speak with social workers afraid for their well-being. Swastika sprayed on neighborhood's welfare bureau with word 'Nazis' scrawled below

Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog made a secret visit Wednesday to Mea Shaarim in Jerusalem. Herzog, who came with a security detail, sought to examine the functioning of the welfare services in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in light of last week's violence, during which the welfare bureau was attacked.


During his visit, regional manager Avigail Danieli said that many ultra-Orthodox residents handled by the neighborhood branch simply prefer not to come to the welfare offices.


According to her, the few who do come do so quietly so as to avoid facing heavy criticism from the haredi community. However, many anonymous telephone inquiries from people asking for aid were received. The welfare bureau reported that the religious public seeks its services in three main areas: poverty, parenting, and relationships.


Even though the tumult in the capital has died down since last week, the haredi outrage at the authorities is still at its peak. New leaflets were distributed in Mea Shaarim Wednesday morning calling residents "not to cooperate with social workers, not even the religious among them. Don't refer to them and don't be referred to them."

Herzog visiting welfare bureau (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


A swastika was even spray painted on the wall of a nearby welfare bureau office with the word "Nazis" scrawled under it.


Continued cooperation

Ruth Shapira, manager of the Bukhari neighborhood welfare office, told Herzog that she has been flooded with ceaseless harassing phone calls that continue into the late hours of the night. She said that even when a legitimate call is received, she is afraid to send social workers into the field "out of fear for their well-being."


Herzog also met with rabbis in the neighborhood to ensure the continuation of their cooperation with the authorities. In a conversation with Ynet, the minister said, "We agreed to continue cooperation in order to provide aid to the population. Welfare workers are working under emergency protocols and are making noted efforts to provide maximum aid to haredi civilians."


Though the welfare bureau in the Bukhari neighborhood is currently closed, branch workers regularly receive clients at the two offices in Ramot and Mea Shaarim. On the backdrop of the recent lull, Herzog asked Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to reopen the Bukhari neighborhood branch.


פרסום ראשון: 07.22.09, 19:27
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