America has been hit by what is likely the worst financial crisis since The Great Depression. Many Jewish communities have been hit hard, with a staggering number of families struggling with joblessness. Jewish organizations that package donated kosher food report a dramatic increase in the number of families in dire need of assistance. Estimates in some places find that about 1 out of every 25 families is receiving aid.
Providing minimum food requirements and making mortgage payments has become an overwhelming and impossible challenge. Many of these households were accustomed to helping others. Now the depressing reality is that they, themselves, are crying out for communal support. And the forecast for the near future is not encouraging.
Those who are still only minimally affected but anticipating even worse times wonder how they can possibly help those whose fortunes have fallen on such hardships. It is true that as individuals, we cannot support those who need our help. However, together, we can ease their burden considerably.
This Shabbos, Parshas Beshalach/Parshas HaMan, rabbis have joined in a nationwide effort to make an emergency parnassah appeal. As Rabbi Zishe Novoseller, executive director of EPI, said earlier this week, “We are all in this together. The OU, National Council of Young Israel, COJO, the RCA, Agudath Israel and many other major Jewish organizations have united to participate with the emergency aid initiative to help the Jewish community. Working together is our only hope to alleviate the depressing problems facing our people.”
A recent gathering of nearly 100 Flatbush rabbonim discussed how best to help the suffering mispallelim, with Rav Matisyahu Solomon, of Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, urging for the Parshas Beshalach/Parshas HaMan appeal.
The appeal this Shabbos is just the first step of many to ease the pain of those who are out of work, with the funds shuls raise to be directed solely toward the mispallelim of your shul and community who have lost their jobs during the past year.
Communities are encouraged to follow the lead of those in Boro Park, Flatbush, and Monsey who have established a matching funds program that gives two dollars to each family for every dollar that is donated, and collectively, we must network with our contacts in order to assist a fellow Yid in finding a new job.
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