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Thousands Of Jewish Families In NYC Are Too Poor To Pay Pesach Costs

The following is a NY Daily News article:

Without help, many Jewish families in New York could not afford to properly observe Passover.

With that in mind, about 15,000 homes will be issued pre-paid debit cards — worth $50 to $300 depending on family size — to defray the cost of special holiday preparations that center around avoiding leavened foods.

It’s the first time the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty is issuing the American Express cards, asking 60 sites — including their 25 satellite neighborhood Jewish Community Councils — to spread the word among local families.

“There is a sense that Jewish poverty is an oxymoron, people don’t think that there are poor Jews out there,” said Met Council CEO Willie Rapfogel. “Passover is a time of year when people ask for help. Everything in the ‘fridge and pantry can’t be used. They need everything.”

Religious law requires that people scrub their homes clean before Passover – removing any signs of starchy foods and then replacing normal kitchen supplies with sets that have never touched banned food and provisions.

A family of four can easily drop $1,000 on groceries and fresh pots and pans in preparation for the eight-day holiday, Rapfogel said.

“It’s hard. We don’t qualify for Medicaid or food stamps,” said Esti Rosenblatt, 30, using a $200 card to shop near her Crown Heights home. “We just had to sell our car.”


6 Responses

  1. We could begin helping people by taking a hard look at the matzah bakeries that charge between $20 and $25 a pound. This equates to $3 a matzoh. The extent of the price gouging is disturbing.

  2. Rebyid, there are cheaper matzos available. Why should the expensive ones lower their price? Let those who can’t afford them buy the cheaper ones.

  3. rebyid- Ok, I took a look and decided that they are charging too much. Now what exactly do you propose? Boycott matzoh for 8 days?

    The only solution that I can think of that will work is if a philanthropist decides to open his own matzoh bakery and just charge cost (+ minimal profit). That is assuming the matzoh mafia wont burn them down.

  4. I wonder if RebYid knows the economics of hand shmura matzo baking? There are several organizations that are selling this at cost – about $15. If $15 is cost then $20-$25 isn’t an unreasonable margin (considering that this isn’t a full-year business).

    It’s a little tiresome hearing people complain about high prices without any knowledge of the underlying cost structure – be it matzos of Yeshiva chinuch or whatever. Mechanchim, and matzo suppliers, are entitled to make a living.

    I don’t know what you do for a living, RebYid, but I doubt you would agree to make your product or service available with no margin, and deprive yourself of a livelihood because someone else out there complains about high prices. So why should the matzo bakeries do that?

  5. @ThenAgain,
    You blithely state:

    “If $15 is cost then $20-$25 isn’t an unreasonable margin (considering that this isn’t a full-year business).”

    Considering that people are using tzedakah money to buy these matzos I would submit that the margin IS unreasonable. I understand that the matzah bakery owners have to make a living; all I am saying is “hub rachmonus.” Perhaps a smaller profit margin would alleviate huge amounts of stress among fellow yidden.

  6. #5, How does people using tzedokoh money to buy matzos affect whether a margin is reasonable or not? A 66% profit margin on a seasonal item is perfectly reasonable; if someone wants to make less they are free to do so. The market will determine what margin is available, and it’s reasonable for bakers to make it. Bakers have to make a living, and are entitled to make a good living; why should their rachmonus on you come at the expense of their own families? Why don’t you have rachmonus on them, and pay them extra?

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