We are living through one of the most difficult financial periods in recent history. From the nearly 50% loss in the stock market and general lack of liquidity to the thousands of layoffs that are taking place across major sectors of the economy, there is nobody that is unaffected. The frum community is no exception: hundreds of jobs have been lost, life savings and 401(k)s decimated, homes foreclosed, etc.
A persuasive case can be made that the frum family and perhaps the community as a whole has been put in a far more precarious position than the average secular or non-Jewish family, as a result of what has happened. The cost of living for the average Frum family is significant; kosher food, three Shabbos meals, simchas, tuition, mortgages, car payments, shaitels, et al. There are few options for those that cannot keep up, and more and more we are seeing people that are falling into debt and are unable to put food on the table. Tomchei Shabbos, and other similar chessed organizations have seen their budgets drastically increase over the last few years. The fact that many of the gvirim that have supported these organizations in the past have now lost much of their own money as well.
Frightening stories are appearing in Jewish publications: Stories of seemingly well off families having to rely on Tomchei Shabbos and other tzedakah organizations just to put food on the table. Stories of lines snaking around the corner of people waiting to pick up their “weekly groceries”, stories of mass unemployment, etc.
Clearly, there are many issues that must be addressed in a time like this. Perhaps our kollel system needs revamping, perhaps it doesn’t. Perhaps people have to take wedding takanos more seriously, perhaps people should cut back on unnecessary expensive clothing, shaitels, etc… perhaps not. These are issues for people far greater than me, However, I think everyone can agree that now is a time where people must come together to help out their fellow Jews in a time of need. Unfortunately, it would seem to me that simply going back to the same sources for tzedakah again and again may not suffice to solve this problem.
Please use this post as a forum to offer constructive comments, suggestions, and possibilities to help ease the burden of those who are suffering.