The poverty wake-up call

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment & Analysis -

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 kfir163@ya­ 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

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