New centers to open in Brooklyn, Queens as need soars for struggling families.
Stewart Ain and Adam Dickter
The storefront on Lee Avenue had yet to open for “business” last Wednesday evening when a large, hungry crowd filed in and found places at its brand-new tables.
Some 30 families — some of whose breadwinners have lost jobs in the recession and are struggling to make ends meet — had been invited to inaugurate the Masbia kosher soup kitchen in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the first operatedby the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. They consumed 120 meals of breaded chicken, mashed potatoes and vegetables.
The first mayor to win three terms since Ed Koch was re-elected in 1985, Bloomberg is faced with reducing a shortfall as high as $12 billion in his first two years in office, causing great anticipation, and anxiety, about his post-election budget cuts<
Assistant Managing Editor
No alternate text on picture! - define alternate text in image propertiesNarrowly overcoming discord over his manipulation of the city’s term limits law, with the benefit of a record-breaking self-financed war chest, a re-elected Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to take quick action on the looming budget deficit as he heads into his third term.
Tamara Slobodskaya, a new resident of Canarsie, by way of Latvia, had a short walk to her first Passover seder. The holiday meal, a communal event sponsored by the Jewish Community Council of Canarsie, took place in the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty’s Council Towers, a subsidized apartment building where she and her husband Boris moved a decade ago.
Reports from the field will be grim when delegates to this year’s Jewish Council for Public Affairs plenum gather in Washington on Sunday — the first major Jewish meeting since the economic furies hit full force and the first since the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
In Detroit, soaring unemployment, home foreclosures and bankruptcies are battering a proud, prosperous Jewish community, and local agencies — already facing budget cuts — are scrambling to keep up.
A cup of coffee and a Danish.
For the last 20 years, lunchtime for Rabbi T. has meant a two-and-a-half block walk from one Lower East Side institution, Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem, the yeshiva where he teaches Talmud, to Gertel’s, a kosher bakery where he buys a snack and sits at a small table, reviewing a Hebrew text. (Many members of the haredi community are publicity-shy.)
Starting Monday, Rabbi T. will have to get his lunch somewhere else.
When people enter the Masbia soup kitchen in Borough Park, they approach a wooden podium of the sort used by a maitre d’.
But no reservations are required at Masbia, currently the city’s only kosher soup kitchen, and clients are simply asked to sign their name before filling their dinner plates.
While in the past they may have been asked to present a letter of reference from a rabbi or community leader to show that they are in need, these days that restriction has all but fallen by the wayside.
Jewish communal groups that run social service programs breathed a collective sigh of relief this weekend when the City Council restored about $3 million in proposed cuts that would have severely curtailed their operations.
Programs to combat domestic violence and drug abuse in the Jewish community were among the items in the state's $73.3 billion budget adopted last week by the state Legislature.
"Drug abuse is becoming an increasing problem in the Jewish community," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), who noted that he helped secure for Ohel Children's Home and Family Services in Brooklyn a $50,000 federal anti-drug grant, as well as several hundred thousand dollars in state money.
At-risk Orthodox Jewish teenagers in Brooklyn (involved in everything from credit card fraud to sexual promiscuity and drug abuse) have created their own informal support network that attracts similarly troubled youngsters from across the city and seeks to recruit "regular youngsters" to their ranks.
An estimated 50,000 needy Jews in the city received special Rosh HaShanah food packages in the past two weeks, and UJA-Federation provided a special grant to allow those below the poverty level to receive food vouchers redeemable at their local supermarkets.
"We've been doing this for 20 years," said William Rapfogel, executive director of the Metropolitan New York Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty.