Today, they make up 10% of the population, and half of them live below the poverty line, dependent on subsidies to survive. Rabbi Amsellem, a member of parliament, is telling them to go to work:
“Torah is the most important thing in the world,” Rabbi Amsellem said in an interview. But now more than 60 percent of ultra-Orthodox men in Israel do not work, compared with 15 percent in the general population, and he argued that full-time, state-financed study should be reserved for great scholars destined to become rabbis or religious judges.
“Those who are not that way inclined,” he said, “should go out and earn a living.”Because the subsidies are tied to the number of children each family has, the problem is likely to get bigger. Fertility rates among the ultra orthodox (7.6 children/woman) are several times higher than the general population.