Awareness is a big part of the solution. This US high school ran a poverty simulation program with great results. Here’s the article:
Carson Sullivan never worried about putting food on the table for his family.
The Vermillion High School student learned all about the process, however, when he took part in the South Dakota Youth Congress poverty simulation at the USD School of Law Wednesday afternoon. The simulation kicked off the annual, two-day South Dakota Youth Congress conference for high school juniors and seniors nominated based on their interest in public policy and leadership qualities.
During the simulation, students from across the state role-played the lives of low-income families. Some were homeless, while others were disabled. Some of the participants role-played senior citizens living off Social Security benefits.
Still, their job was to provide the basic necessities and shelter for their families during the course of four 15-minute “weeks.”
Within minutes of the simulation starting, Sullivan was at the Department of Social Services, asking how to obtain food stamps. The experience made him feel “very flustered” while filling out paperwork.
“I really don’t know how I’m going to pay for this,” Sullivan said.
Read the rest here.
This very important article from Jonathan Rosenblum get right to the point of the LARGER QUESTION in Jewish unity. And Jewish unity is at the basis of Tzedakah:
An acquaintance accosted me recently. “Whatever happened to ahavas Yisrael?” he wanted to know. While I sometimes doff my defender-of-the-faithful hat at the gym, I assumed he was talking about Emmanuel and dutifully trotted out all my proofs that no ethnic discrimination was involved. Though Emmanuel was — as I had guessed — the impetus for his question, the issue he raised was far larger than Emmanuel.
“When I grew up in Detroit,” Max told me, “there were barely enough kids from shomer Shabbos families to support one day school. We all went to school together. I remember Rabbi Avrohom Abba Freedman, a devoted disciple of Reb Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, going from bed to bed in hospitals asking people if they were Jewish. If they were, he would beg them to send their children to Bais Yehudah. Many important talmidei chachamim from that era came from non-shomer Shabbos homes.”
As the frum community has grown, schools have become more and more selective. The emphasis today is on refining the criteria for exclusion, not bringing in as many Jewish children as possible. Rav Aharon Leib Steinman has quipped that Avrohom Avinu would not be accepted in our schools today because of his father, but Yishmael and Esav would be. Much has changed from the 40s and ’50s. The average non-frum student of those days was more innocent than many students from Orthodox homes today. Schools can no longer simply employ an open-door policy. Internet and handheld devices are game-changers. One child with Internet access can corrupt an entire class.
(Nor is it always in the best interests of children of recent ba’alei teshuva or from weaker backgrounds to be integrated immediately with children from veteran religious families. In such circumstances, the recent ba’alei teshuva will often feel like second-class citizens, just because they are lacking so many basics their peers have absorbed at home.)
But our emphasis on tiny differences goes far beyond protecting our children against the ravages of internet. In both the United States and Israel, many schools look askance at any child whose father is not learning in kollel. Even children of English-speaking kolleleit are persona non grata is some Israeli schools. In a famous clip, a school principal boasts to Rav Steinman that the school employs someone with a special talent for ferreting out those who lack the proper signon (style).” Rav Steinman replies that what the principal calls signon is only ga’avah (conceit).
Community-wide schools for children from a variety of backgrounds have largely gone the way of the dodo bird – at least apart from smaller communities. Some of the reasons are valid; others less so: Like everything connected to chinuch, matters are complicated and the dividing lines thin. But we should at least have our eyes open about what has been lost. Idealism is the first casualty. In former times, children from stronger backgrounds were eager to be a positive influence on the children from weaker backgrounds. They consciously viewed themselves as mashpi’im (sources of influence), and that, in turn, strengthened their own religious identity.
I have been told by the daughters of highly respected rabbis in communities where a more “right-wing” Bais Yaakov opened up that they would not want to go to the new school precisely because they would miss the opportunity to be a positive influence. (The potential benefits for religious identity of defining oneself in juxtaposition to the surroundings is still found today in many children of rabbis in smaller American communities and among Israeli children who grow up in more mixed communities.)
The most common justification for ever more stringent entrance requirements to our educational institutions is the need to protect our children. Certainly no responsible Jewish parent would knowingly expose their child to a host of negative influences. We do not wantonly subject ourselves to tests in order to strengthen ourselves. But it is possible to cripple our children by sheltering them to such a degree that when they are exposed to challenges as adults they will have developed no tools for dealing with those challenges. Healthy bodies develop immunities through controlled exposure to viruses, and there is a spiritual parallel.
Not everyone we meet in life will be pre-selected to think exactly like us, and a school where everyone is so selected risks producing vulnerable products. Part of a Torah chinuch is providing our children with the tools that they will need to confront challenges. Parents of girls from Israeli kollel families living in the utmost simplicity and intent on preparing their daughters for such a life rightly fear that exposure to other girls living at a much higher standard might cause arouse discontent among some of their daughters.
But income differentials have been a fact of life since time immemorial. Better for the school to mitigate the challenges by developing parietal rules – e.g., putting strict limits on what can be served at a birthday party and/or limiting birthday parties to school. But ultimately there is no escape from the necessity of developing in our children a deep appreciation of Chazal’s definition of “who is happy.”
Another defense of schools limited to students from one chassidic group or who meet a long checklist of criteria is the desire to transmit a particular mesorah. The challenge, however, is finding ways to instill pride in one’s own traditions, without becoming contemptuous of everyone else’s. Such contempt is a natural by-product, however, when the mesorah can only be transmitted by excluding everyone with a slightly different one.
Homogeneity can also cause the atrophying of a Klal Yisrael consciousness. The less we are exposed to Jews who are different from us, the less aware we become of their existence. And the less aware we are of Jews outside of our narrow circle, the greater the chance that we will not take them into account when making decisions about our conduct.
COULD you live on $2 a day? Eighteen-year-old Rachell Dade is going to try as she takes part in the Live Below the Line Campaign.
For one week in August the Tuncurry teenager will have an allowance of less than $2 – the amount the World Bank defines as the line of extreme poverty, approximately $1.25US each day, for every expense, not just food.
“I’ll be getting a very small taste of extreme poverty,” Rachel said.
“People live on this everyday of their lives for much more than food.”
The anti-poverty campaign isn’t Rachell’s first, in May she toured with the MakePovertyHistory Roadtrip organised by the Oaktree Foundation.
She travelled around NSW, spending three days at a summit in Canberra where she met Member for Paterson Bob Baldwin to discuss the Act to End Poverty.
She’s teamed up with the organisation again this time to raise money for poverty stricken schools in Cambodia. The funds will go towards opening and sustaining three schools with outreach programs and scholarships to ensure every child receives a quality education.
“Education is something that most people take for granted, but it is something that has a great effect on the outcome of your life and is an undeniable factor in eliminating poverty,” Rachell said.
She said most children in these areas have to choose between food, education and medicine every day and end up having to work to support their family. Just $50 will send one disadvantaged child to school for six months on scholarship.
“With scholarships the children are able to begin to build a better future,” she said.
Rachell will host a fundraising movie premiere on August 12 for the romantic comedy Killers. There will be pre-movie munchies and raffles with all money raised going towards helping children receive a quality education and assist them to pull themselves out of poverty.
From: Great Lakes Advocate
This Jewish Federation analysis of the poverty in Israel’s outlying areas is very thought-provoking.
The Galilee: a highly fertile and agricultural region of Israel with rain a distinctive feature
The Negev: comprising about half of Israel’s land area, sparsely inhabited, its population supported by an agricultural and industrial economy
These underdeveloped and resource-starved regions comprise 75% of Israel’s landmass, yet only 30% of Israel’s population lives in those areas. Lack of job opportunities and poor public transportation has had the effect of turning these areas into a socio-economic periphery as well as a geographic one. Both regions lag far behind the center of the country in terms of education, standard of living and economic growth.
* While 70% of Israelis think the Negev has a promising future, only 16% said they would consider moving there themselves. (Market Watch survey)
* According to data presented at the Galilee Conference in 2007, while many polls show that the Israeli public believes the quality of life in northern Israel is one of the highest in the country, they also believe job opportunities are scarce. Read the rest here.
Posted by admin under UncategorizedOne of the most challenging moments in the day to day life of someone who lives had to mouth occurs when they have some extra cash in hand. Well, not really extra, but an amount that looks like a lot. At least on pay day…
As I have written before, the concept of disposable income is non-existent in Israel. As a matter of fact, the opposite is more likely accurate. Some call it “negative cash flow”. So the question becomes, what can one do? The optical illusion of there being some cash in hand at the beginning of the month leads many astray.
With all the “money management” methods around, that seems like a simple answer, but its not. The reason is that when the bare necessities keep getting pushed off from month to month, that backlog creates serious pressure to get them dealt with.
ON PAY DAY, that pressure is more often than not, uncontrollable. Is cutting expenses the answer? Of course! But what happens when there is nothing left to cut? Well then, bring in more money! Nice though but as we all know, easier said than done.
So WHAT’S THE ANSWER? Both! Keep cutting expenses and find ways (not loans) to increase family income. That is the only way to get the breathing room everyone needs, let alone making ends meet from month to month.
As we enter the nine days, the days from Rosh Hodesh Av until Tisha B’Av (the first of the Hebrew month of Av to the 9th of the same month) we enter a period of deep mourning. The central theme of these days is mourning, better, longing for the return of the Holy Temple to Mount Moriah in Jerusalem.
There must of course be a deeper meaning to it all though. Surely, the lack of the most beautiful and holy of temples in all of history cannot be the ends we so dearly miss. There must be more. What is it that is really missing?
Well, to find the answer we must go back to what G-D saw as justification for the destruction of the temple and the subsequent exile of the Jewish people from their home-land. What was it that deserved such sever measures?
As our rabbis teach us. The Jewish people at the time just before the destruction and exile of the second temple were all “righteous” people. All were constantly busy with Torah Study, with the fulfilment of the Mitzvot, and more. What then was missing? What was wrong?
UNFORTUNATELY, what was deeply wrong was the lack of the social bond, the social responsibility to care for one another. To look after the poor an d the homeless, the downtrodden. The “Hessed”, the “Tzedakah” were what was missing.
Our rabbis teach us that it is just those things that will bring about the return of those better times.
TODAY, thank G-D the world is a much better place than it used to be. Yes, there is still much work to do but no one can deny that the caring, the tzedakah that happens every moment of the day is surely a sighn that we are on the right track.
Financial life in Israel is tough enough. The constant lack of cash in hand. Living life from hand to mouth, for what seems to be forever! And for some, it is FOREVER… Imagine what happens then when a general strike happens. More specifically, a bank strike.
People who live from hand-to-mouth need to get to the bank almost daily at times to secure that extra bit of cash, that extra line of credit. Not a good thing but when you have to feed the kids, many times there is no choice.
So, when the banks are on strike, there is no cash available. When there is no cash, the kids get hungrier. Oh the cycle of poverty…
What a great idea! Under a very intuitive program that EVERY state in the USA has, low-wage workers can have a matched deposit made to savings accounts set up for such things such as educational savings, savings towards starting a business, buying a new home and more. What a great idea! (sorry for being repetitive…) Here’s more, all made possible by this program:
A San Francisco healthcare worker decided to break the cycle of poverty. Now the 38-year-old is a college graduate on the cusp of opening her own business. She is also raising a high-achieving teenager who is in position to win merit-based college scholarships.
She attributes her life’s 180-degree turn to two things: a new attitude and a savings account with matching funds provided to low-income participants. Read the rest here.
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