Responding with Care to Jewish Poverty

Boston's Jewish community takes pride in the success of its members. We understand that caring for the vulnerable is one of our primary Jewish values, but we often falsely assume that those in need live outside of our community. About 1 in 8 Boston-area Jewish households either live in poverty or are in danger of sliding into financial distress. Suburban poverty is increasing at an alarming rate and moving out to traditionally Jewish communities in Newton, Needham, and Wellesley. Jews with college educations are finding themselves without jobs mid-way through their careers, young adults are entering a depleted job market, and our Jewish community has more aging baby boomers (ages 50 to 68) than the general population. These conditions leave our friends and neighbors increasingly vulnerable to financial insecurity.

Beyond these issues, the false view that everyone in the Jewish community is financially prosperous creates stigma and shame that keeps those in financial distress from stepping forward and asking for assistance. Leaders in our community like rabbis, synagogue leadership, and day school staff are in the unique position to be first responders to those in need. Not only do they have a responsibility to guide and aid those who are financially vulnerable, but they are also often the first to notice signs that a family or individual may be in trouble.

The downloadable resources here will help you identify who in your community might be in need and how to guide them towards help.

“If there is among you a poor person, one of your kin, in any of your towns within your land which G-d gives you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against them, but you shall open your hand to them...”

Deuteronomy 15: 7-8