The sheer scale of needs associated with being poor or near poor dwarfs the resources of even the largest Jewish community in the United States. One is tempted to believe that the scale of need is so vast that the Jewish community should abandon this field to others.
Yet since the earliest days of Jewish communal life in New York, the organized Jewish community has accepted its responsibilities to care for those in need. Even since the New Deal, when the federal government took on the primary role of providing a societal safety net, the Jewish community has been active in providing philanthropic support and services for poor and near-poor Jews.
The numbers of poor and near-poor Jewish households, the enormous increase in the number of these households over the past 20 years, and the diverse groups affected by poverty create an imperative for an extraordinary response -- from government, the voluntary sector, the philanthropic sector, and all segments of society. These findings suggest that the organized Jewish community needs to take a hard look at current planning, advocacy, service delivery, and resource investment.