Shortly before the High Holidays the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs publishes data on donations in the haredi public compared to those in the general population. The data show that the rate of donations as a percentage of the household income in the haredi public is four times that in the general public. In addition, an overall adjusted calculation of the data reveals that while haredi households are only 5 percent of Jewish households, donations from haredi society constitute nearly 20 percent of all donations from the Jewish sector.
A household in the haredi public donates an average of NIS 457 per month, which is 4.8 percent of the monthly household income. In contrast, a household in the non-haredi Jewish public donates NIS 222 per month, which is 1.2 percent of the average monthly income in that public. These figures were presented in an article published by the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs, based on Central Bureau of Statistics data for 2014, by Nitsa Kasir and Assaf Tzachor-Shai.
Furthermore, a review of and data on the ratio of households that give monetary donations every month found that 75 percent of households in the haredi public donate monthly, compared to 31 percent in the non-haredi Jewish public. According to this data, donating is 2.4 times as common in the haredi public as in the general Jewish public.
This donations gap between haredi and non-haredi society results in a situation in which, while haredi households are just 5 percent of Jewish households, donations from haredi society account for some 20 percent of all donations in the Jewish sector. The donations institutions in haredi society are significantly more sophisticated and have developed over the years, haredi society relies on them in many respects and donations to these institutions are accordingly.
A tithe or half a tithe?
As noted above, the data show that the average household in the haredi public donates 4.8 percent of its monthly income. The compilers of the report note that this sum is about half of the tithe – the biblical precept that is the main motivating factor behind the monetary donations – raising the question of why the average donated sum is barely half of the monthly obligation.
“One of the main motivating factors for giving monetary donations is the fulfillment of the halachic obligation and the biblical precept of tithing, as it appears in the Torah: ‘You shall surely tithe all the yield of your crops,’ (Deut. 14:22), and up to a fifth can be contributed.”
The gap between the tithe sum and the average donation sum are explained in several ways: “This can be explained by the different interpretations of the calculation for meeting the tithe obligation. Some calculate the determining income for the tithe obligation as the disposable income after the deduction of various expenses and there is an accepted approach that the payment for the children’s religious education can be included in the tithe calculation. There are also various opinions regarding the obligation to tithe the stipends received by married Torah scholars.”