These may not be the worst of times – we’ve had plenty of those – but they are hard enough, economically, for families to be hurting.
Jewish families have the additional burdens of synagogue dues, day-school tuition, and bar and bat mitzvahs (though joyous occasions) to fund.
Also, it’s expensive to feed a family – and more expensive when the family is large, as many Jewish families are, and the food must be kosher.
Food stamps can help. (See page 6.) Unfortunately, many of those who need them won’t even apply for them. They are feeding, so to speak, into three stereotypes: First, that all Jews are rich. To accept food stamps, therefore, would be an admission of poverty and failure. Second, that people who are poor are somehow responsible for their situation – they may be lazy, improvident, or have too many children. Third, that food stamps are a form of charity and to accept it is somehow degrading.
But as we all know, poverty is not an observer of political correctness. It’s found in every ethnic group. And so often it’s a result of loss of employment and illness – particularly where there’s lack of health insurance or a pre-existing condition that is not covered by insurance. And it’s not charity but, as is said, “your tax dollars at work.”
There’s no shame in using food stamps.
But there is shame in not enabling people to use them.
While kosher food is available at major supermarkets and food stamps are generally accepted there, it’s shocking and saddening that most area kosher food establishments do not accept food stamps.
Yet they would lose nothing by participating in the program. It is not a giveaway. Their customers would be able to buy more of their merchandise. And to put food on the table.