Our enemies pretend that all Jews a rich and “that the Jews have all the money.” The truth is that there are numerous Jews who have no money and who are indeed poor. In Brooklyn there is a neighborhood in the vicinity of Rabbi Schneerson’s erstwhile headquarters where a good number of very poor Jews live and congregate. A considerable number of poor Jews live below the poverty line in New York City. Those in Brooklyn and others are therefore eligible to receive federal government funds. This money is distributed, funneling it through a community organization whose boards are elected from among the local residents. The poor Jews of Brooklyn live in a neighborhood which has a large number of Hispanics, who form the majority and therefore elect the board. Consequently almost all the money furnished by the federal government is allocated to Hispanics but hardly to Jews. The Hispanic led board of directors claims that the poor Jews of Brooklyn are supported by the rich Jews of Manhattan and that therefore they don’t need the money managed by the Hispanics.
the same time, the wealthy Jews of Manhattan assume that the Brooklyn Jews are
supported by federal government funds and are therefore unwilling to help their
Jewish brethren. In addition to this problem is the unfortunate fact that
considerable and excessive salaries are paid to executive directors and other
bureaucrats, so that the money contributed by well-meaning citizens hardly
reaches those most in need. It needs to be considered that each executive
employs numerous assistants, also paid from funds collected from the
contributors, so that those in need receive very little if anything at all.
has two dimensions. Not only does it designate lack of sufficient housing,
clothing, and food, but it also involves humiliation and insult.
best way of understanding what is meant by the demeaning manner in which the
poor are treated is to display some real life experiences as suffered by poor
are some examples. We were living in Philadelphia under most difficult
circumstances. Having neither relatives or friends, we had barely enough to eat
and pay the rent. When I lost my job and my wife was still working at the Hillel
Foundation, she was allowed to eat her dinner in the kosher dining room used by
wealthy University of Pennsylvania students. Because we were so poor that we
could hardly buy food, I visited my wife at dinner time and she shared her food
with me, which cost the foundation nothing. Nevertheless, Rabbi Theodore Herzl
Gordon told me to get out and not eat part of my wife’s food.
of our poverty, we were unable to buy tickets to attend a synagogue on Yom
Kippur. We nevertheless walked up the stairs to the door of the West Side Jewish
Center, which was a Philadelphia synagogue. Arriving at the door, we were
prevented from entering because a large table had been placed across the
entrance. Behind it sat behind it sat a large woman told us: "if you want
to go into a theater you have to have a ticket and therefore you need a ticket
to get in here.” We spent the Yom Kippur on a park bench.
later I was offered job as a statistician in Cleveland, Ohio. Shortly before
that, we had made a down payment on a house in Philadelphia, since I had worked
for large corporation as a statistician in that city. On being appointed to the
job in Cleveland, we asked the Jewish real estate developer, a man named Rosen,
to return our down payment, as we were so exceedingly poor. Rosen refused and
sarcastically told us that losing our last cent was “Rebbe Gelt.”
years later I was appointed an assistant professor in Buffalo, New York. We
rented an apartment which was poorly furnished to the extent that our income
would allow. Since we knew no one in Buffalo, we called a Jewish professor whose
name had been given us by someone who had at one time lived here. He and his
wife came to see us and made some sarcastic remarks about our furniture.
before all of this, the Adler family escaped from Germany and located in
Weirton, West Virginia. Utterly without resources and the poorest of the poor,
they were incessantly insulted and humiliated and demeaned. For example, a
wealthy Jew invited three children to his house and told them that he would give
them some candy. When they arrived, he said that they could take candy from the
table. The children reached for more than one piece, whereupon the wealthy man
told them they could have only one piece, not more, and then a song in Yiddish
which in English translation means: “beautiful is the life of the Gypsies.
All they wanted to do is grab everything and give nothing.”
Many more examples could be recited to show the effect on those who live
on the margin of poverty and are subject of humiliation and disdain.
Many more examples could be recited to show the effect on those who live on the margin of poverty and are subject of humiliation and disdain.