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!
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • 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.