Offering a Lifeline for Growing Number of Jewish Hungry and Poor

With Poverty Rising, Met Council Funds Outreach to Orthodox

courtesy of masbia

By Rukhl Schaechter

Published June 14, 2013, issue of June 21, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

This story first appeared in the Yiddish Forverts. It was translated into English by Frimet Goldberger.

According to a study by the UJA Federation of New York, the poverty rate of the greater New York Jewish population grew exponentially as of late. More than 560,000 people — 20% of all the Jewish households in the region — live below the poverty level. This is double of what it was in 1991, not considering the 14% growth of the Jewish population since then.

This report also showed that nearly half of all children in Jewish households live under poor, or near-poor, conditions. Older, Russian-speaking folks make up the greatest percentage, followed by Hasidic families and the non-Russian-speaking elders.

When we think of poor people we envision those who cannot afford to put food on the table, or those walking around in tattered clothing. However, this issue is a lot more complicated. The report also takes into account the households that are not officially considered poor, but their income is so low, that they have to reach out for outside help — for both food and housing.

“According to the Federal guidelines, a family of four is considered poor only when its annual income is below $33,000,” said Daniel Amzallag, the Deputy Chief of Staff at Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, in an interview with the Yiddish Forverts.

“This means that a family of four earning between $33,000 and $55,000 is perhaps not considered poor. But as we see it, these families are also struggling.”

In previous years, 58,000 Jewish households were in need of help. Nearly half of those were not officially poor, Amzallag said.

In order to service both needy groups — those who actually go hungry, and those who struggle financially — the Metropolitan Council partnered with another Jewish organization called Masbia (http://www.masbia.org/).

“We help those who are close to a crisis — the people who have empty refrigerators, and are in serious danger,” said Alexander Rapaport, the founder and manager of Masbia. “At our tables you can find an Israeli fundraising for a Yeshiva in Israel, and a non-Jewish Mexican worker. We treat everyone with respect, whether he is a Jew or not.”

One 102-year-old non-Haredi woman comes in every night from Boro Park, Rapaport added.

The Metropolitan Council, which provides 60% of the Masbia budget, comes to the aid of those who lost their jobs, or those who can no longer afford to pay tuition for their children’s schooling, by helping them apply for Food Stamps and Medicaid.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.