The poverty wake-up call
IT IS A MATTER of disgrace that at the start of the 21st century people are living in the conditions described in your special report on Jewish poverty (“Poverty: The new crisis”, JC, January 12). It appears as though there are two main types of poverty — that caused by circumstances beyond one’s control, and that deriving from a chosen lifestyle.
The former comes from long-term illness, disability, redundancy and old age, where one is dependent on the less than generous state pension. Those who find themselves in this situation are of course deserving of our support and help.
However, where the poverty derives from a chosen lifestyle, then I find it difficult, if not well nigh impossible, to justify charitable support. Rabbi Avraham Pinter states that the majority of the Charedim have an “average income”, yet at the same time they also have larger than average families (seven is the norm) and eat kosher food which, as your research showed, is far more expensive than its non-kosher equivalent.
The majority of ordinary families are struggling financially, and I do not see why people who have chosen a lifestyle that they cannot afford should be supported by the rest of the community. If you cannot support a large family, then do not have one. If you cannot afford kosher food, do not purchase it.
Judaism does not require you to live in poverty. Geoff Jacobs email@example.com YOUR HEADLINE “Poverty in the community” comes as no surprise to me. As one who worked as a social worker in the Jewish community for 20 years, I became well aware of this problem.
I also realised that many people in the community were not aware of the benefits for which they might be eligible.
With the help of work colleagues and the Barnet Welfare Right Unit, I tried to address this problem, with some success.
However, the attitude of some of the higher management and directorate of the charitable organisation I worked for was not always supportive of this endeavour, and at one point I was told that this was not “social work”.
Your wake-up call to deal with this problem serves to vindicate all that I tried to do. Matt Suher Belmont Lane, Stanmore, Middlesex WELL DONE the JC. At last you have confirmed that we are a community the same as other communities. We don’t all have £1 million-plus homes, drive Jaguar cars, go cruising every three months and have “ologies” after our names with specialities in medicine, law, dentistry and accountancy.
There are many who struggle on a day-to-day basis to feed their families. There are lots of broken homes and all the other social problems that befall all of us. Your front page has made a beginning. Now let’s see a bit more done to enlighten the community at large as to what we are. Geoffrey Wood Oakleigh Gardens, London N20 I CAN’T HELP but feel that your price comparison on the cost of keeping kosher would have been that much more relevant if, instead of comparing prices with Tesco, you compared it to a halal butcher and a halal supermarket.
I understand from my Muslim friends that there is a great similarity between kosher and halal, and if halal is cheaper, as I suspect it is, it would be an idea to learn from the Muslim community how they do it. David Silverston Apsley Lock, Hemel Hempstead