The status of the Jewish people’s resources improved over the past year. In the past decade Israel’s economic performance has been positive in comparison with most of Europe. Israel’s GDP has grown. This growth includes the development of natural resources off Israel’s shores and in the Golan Heights. The most recent growth estimate for 2014 was 2.9 percent, smaller than previously expected, but recorded in a year that included a 50-day war. The average growth among OECD countries was 1.9 percent. Median income has been increasing as well. Similarly, according to financial news reports, the material resources available to Jews in the Diaspora also grew.
Nevertheless, a number of concerns present themselves. The first, which found some expression in the recent Israeli elections, has to do with the high cost of living and income disparities there. Inadequate investment in the future, both in Israel and the Diaspora, is a second concern.
This year’s assessment of the sources and uses of Jewish wealth will thus consider four topics of importance to the Jewish people’s current and future well-being. First, we will discuss economic growth both in Israel and the Diaspora. Then we will look at Israel’s high cost of living and income disparities among its populace. A short discussion of Haredi welfare in Israel as new measures for economic integration have come into place (and could disappear as a consequence of the electoral outcome) will follow. And finally, we address the supply and demand interplay for Jewish life in the United States, and what seems to be an underinvestment in the Jewish future.