G., 35, is an experienced criminologist, researcher and lecturer - without tenure since there are no tenured positions. T., her husband, is a talented financial consultant with advanced degrees in economics and law. They both served in the army; T. is a reservist.
The couple has a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. They do not own an apartment. Mortgage conditions and their parents' meager salaries preclude this, certainly in the center of the country, which is the only place they found good jobs. And so they rent their apartment, paying an exorbitant price, and make do with one car and a bike.
This week they went to sign their daughter up for day care for next year.
In exchange for NIS 4,000 a month, a few preschool teachers offer a day that is not short and not too long, with lunch, for a group of 15 to 20 children. The pre-school is secular, said one of the staff even though she was wearing a prominent head covering. But we open the day with prayer and we have a small Torah ark, she added. And the holidays at our nursery school are something special.
Our preschool is completely secular, another teacher, who was asking only NIS 3,750 a month, said. Only my assistants, how shall we say, have grown very strong in their faith over the past year. And who is this, G. and T., asked when they saw a powerful-looking young man wearing a gigantic white skullcap. Oh, that's my husband, the woman said. He is studying in a kollel and he helps me in the nursery school.
G and T. concluded that the educational possibilities for their little daughter were limited. There were two reasonable nursery schools in their area, both charging no less than NIS 4,000 a month. What about the cabinet decision about free education from age 3, the couple asked. Their daughter will be exactly 3 years old at the end of August. We know nothing about that, all the nursery school teachers said. As far as we're concerned everything is the same as it was.
Doing the math, G. and T. calculated the total cost of their rent, health care dental care, car maintenance, etc., and concluded that they do not understand how people can live here. If people like them, who make a good living, limit their shopping list to only the basics (which are becoming increasingly expensive ), think of creative ways to economize every month, do their shopping in a concentrated and careful way at cheap supermarkets, give up household help and, for vacations, make do with a weekend in a pup tent in the desert, and even so, they live under an ominous cloud of worry - then how does a family with three or four children and an average wage manage?
The summer protest gave them hope. For the first time, issues they thought were important were in the center of public discourse. Not that they don't have clear positions on political issues, but these are dwarfed by the fear that if one of them loses his or her job, or gets sick, or someone in the family needs expensive treatment, the delicate balance that they work so hard to maintain will suddenly collapse.
Do you know this couple? They are your children and mine; they are the young editors who put this article to bed and hundreds and thousands of other good citizens. The government - which protects a small group of the wealthy and well connected so they don't flee, perish the thought (to where? to the collapsing markets of the West? ), and which established the Trajtenberg Committee - is now working on fear-mongering and warmongering, turning existential despair into panic, and panic into a basis for bonding.
But the young people have had it. The Iranian threat only sharpens the feeling that they have been abandoned and their future is not secure. This week G. and T. found out that they both have professions that are on a high-demand list in Canada. They don't want to leave, but they know that it is better for them to emigrate while they are younger, and not to knock at the door as refugees. It is cold in Canada, and Israel is the home they love with every fiber of their being. But this home is doing everything it can to evict them.
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