The rate of volunteerism in the chareidi community is about 35 percent, with the highest level of volunteering reporting. The proportion of volunteers among religious Jews (who are not chareidi) is similar to that of chareidi volunteers and stands at 32 percent.
The proportion of volunteers among traditional and secular Jews stands at about 22 percent. According to a new study published by Nitza (Kleiner) Kasir, the deputy director of the Chareidi Institute for Policy Studies at the Institute, and researchers at the Institute Asaf Tzahor-Shai and Hedva Levitz, the study’s findings are based on Analysis of data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) for 2015-2016.
The authors of the study note that in order to correctly understand the significance of the gaps in the extent of volunteer rates, it is necessary to distinguish between the various motives for volunteerism that exist among the different populations. In chareidi society, the concept of volunteering is prevalent in the context of religious and communal motives, which is based on the Halachic commandment for benevolence and communal life, which entails social commitment. Thus, religion and the community can be seen as frameworks that increase assistance and benevolence on the part of the individuals, because they provide additional motives for volunteering and encouragement from the community.
However, the various motivations for volunteering also change the perception of the concept of volunteerism itself, in a way that additional activities may be perceived as volunteerism – which may also explain some of the large gap in the rates of volunteerism.
For example, in chareidi society, assistance to relatives or neighbors will generally be perceived as voluntary, as opposed to the non-chareidi society in which this activity will not be perceived as voluntary. In accordance with this approach, social norms that establish many areas of volunteerism have taken root in chareidi society over the years. For example, in various neighborhoods and cities there is a network of volunteers who donate their time and transport patients to treatment and family members of patients who wish to fulfill the mitzvah of visiting the sick. Other common volunteer ways are helping older neighbors or helping a woman who has just given birth.
Accordingly, Kasir, Levitz, and Tzahor-Shai present additional data regarding the manner of volunteerism and the framework in which it is carried out. In the framework of the survey, a division was made between private volunteering and volunteer work in the organization. The higher the level of religious observance, the greater the proportion of volunteers in private, while the proportion of volunteers in organizations remains the same at all levels of religiosity among Jews. In particular, it can be seen that 25 percent of chareidim volunteer privately compared to 11 percent among traditional and secular.
This is due, among other things, to the fact that chareidim are more inclined to attribute the concept of volunteering to the activity of helping others in a private and informal manner, activities that in other sectors were not necessarily considered voluntary. In addition, the closed chareidi community encourages private and informal volunteering within the community, among other things. Volunteer activity in gemachim and community frameworks that are not considered institutional organizations is common.
In addition to the changes in the nature of volunteering, it is possible to distinguish between the gaps related to the scope of volunteering. An examination of the scope in terms of monthly hours raises the existence of different patterns of volunteerism among the populations. While half of the chareidim volunteer for more than 10 hours per month, the other population groups have volunteer patterns of only a few hours a month. One-third of the volunteers are helping the needy. Other interesting data presented in the study draw a picture of the various areas in which volunteer groups operate within the various volunteer groups.
The area of assistance to those in need is the most common in all population groups and accounts for about a third of all volunteers in organizations in each of the population groups. On the other hand, volunteering in organizations in the field of health is very common in chareidi society relative to other population groups, and the existence of many chareidi charitable organizations in the field of health enables a large supply of chareidi volunteer spaces.
Thus, in a trivial manner, volunteering in chareidi society is more prevalent in religious activity than in traditional and secular Jewish society. In secular society, however, there were higher rates of volunteerism in education, which can be explained by the existence of more informal educational frameworks such as community centers and youth movements.
In addition, higher rates of volunteering among non-chareidi Jews also exist in the fields of culture, public order and other areas, such as conservation of nature and animals.
The highest rate in international comparison.
In addition, the study authors present data from an adult skills survey conducted by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) in various countries, including Israel, which was surveyed between 2014 and 2015. The survey included a question about volunteers’ volunteer activity, which enables comparison of volunteering patterns between Israel and the world. It is possible to compare the data of the adult proficiency survey with those of the social survey, on which most of the research is based, due to significant differences in the survey population and in the question formula presented to the respondents.
The findings show that the chareidi population reports the highest rates of volunteering in an international comparison, in almost all volunteer frequencies – weekly, monthly and annually. About 23 percent of the chareidim in Israel report that they volunteer on a weekly basis, compared with an average of 9 percent of the population in the countries surveyed. About 34 percent of the chareidim reported that they volunteer at least once a month, compared with an average of 17 percent of the population in the survey countries.
An examination of volunteers at least once a year reveals that among the chareidim in Israel, more than 51 percent of volunteers are volunteers, compared to an average of 33 percent in the survey countries. In fact, the chareidim in Israel report higher volunteering than in the other countries at each of the volunteer frequencies, with the exception of a frequency of volunteering at least once in the past year, in Norway and the United States reporting slightly higher volunteer rates than among the chareidi population in Israel.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)