Detroit's Own 'Jews Without Money'
Poverty Amidst Plenty in Jewish Community
there are so many people Dr. Kahana's survey said they Mo'os Hitim this year and seling — and public welfare former mental patients and
BY CHARLOTTE DUBIN
"Let all who are hungry worse off than I am that I keep kosher in their homes. last," she said. "If it weren't became an American institu- retardates who live in vari-
ous boarding home situations
for them, we'd have no holi- tion.
enter in . . . "How often that hate to bother anybody with
To the younger Orthodox day. When you go down to
"Only now," said Sam within Detroit. Rabbi Sol-
charitable invitation has been my problems.
"Sometimes I see old Jew- family there are other and the synagogue and pick up Lerner, "the Jewish com- omon Gruskin, Jewish chap-
chanted at the Passover
munity is waking up to the lain to the state mental hos-
ish women buying trefa (un- greater needs: not only
It is said as a matter of kosher) meat at the store. kosher foods, but special ed- your matzo order, you see fact that the problem isn't pitals, puts their number at
course, this old Hagada re- At first it used to bother me, ucation expenses, as well. desperate.
the people who
your solved; public assistance just about 175. Some get old-age
Parents who may, out of re- heart."
isn't enough." He added that assistance, others welfare.
frain. For everyone knows but now I understand."
Before she became ill, Mrs. with threatened cutbacks in Still others are on Social Se-
According to some criteria, ligious conviction, have large
that hunger belongs to the
was a professional programs funded through the curity and Medicare.
these women would not be families may earn consider- Helfman
Samuel Lerner agrees it
But on Monday night, some considered poor, or even near ably more than a retired bill collector, making $125 to Office of Equal Opportunity,
in Detroit will know it as the poor. Samuel Lerner, execu- couple but feel the financial $150 a week. When she gives what wasn't enough before would be "excruciatingly dif-
talks for the West Side may be even less in the near ficult" and expensive—though
tive director of the Jewish pinch even more.
very real present.
desirable — to attempt a
a welfare rights future.
To be sure, on this holiday
more than on others, Jews ice, would describe them as assistant principal of Yeshiv- group of which she is treas-
But for a sizeable number study of the aged and those
are moved by the spirit of "strapping to live." But he ath Beth Yehudah, insists urer, she says: "Before, I of those who most need aid on marginal incomes. Toward
tzedaka, charity. For the past does not minimize the needs that from his experience the was white, Jewish and mid- — whether public or private that end, however, D,
few months, in accordance of those in such a category, number of cases in the pov- dle class. Now I'm white, — the issue is, and will re- Goldberg, a demogra, _..1r at
with Jewish tradition, the nor the necessity for a survey erty category is minimal — Jewish and a number.
main, academic. In a word, the University of Michigan,
has been asked to collect
"Listen, asking for ADC it is pride.
contributions of Detroit Jews to determine just who falls certainly not on the scope of
base data and determine how
the problem that exists was one of the most humili-
have gone into a fund, Mo'os into it.
To attempt a study of how among the Orthodox in New ating experiences in my life. Jewish Center once heard a extensive a survey would be
Ritim, to purchase Passover
I had Jewish pride, but I
many low-income Jews live York.
foods for the needy.
guest lecturer describe the
Morris Dorn, who coordin- most
in the impossible
Detroit area task,
is an al-
he He did acknowledge, how _ was desperate. I'm figure
not procedures for setting up a What irks Lerner—and the
ates the local fund drive
ever, that some large fam- ashamed any more. I
food stamp distribution pro-
pro Jewish Welfare Federation
obtaining names of recipients, says. Estimates have ranged ilies who send their children I'm as good as anybody else gram, possibly at the Center. whose fund-raising apparatus
collecting donations, purchas- from 8- to 10,000 in the total to the Yeshiva require total even though I'm on ADC.
The senior adults wanted no partly funds JFCS — is the
"In the last three years, part of it. It smacked of frequent demand that the
ing the matzo and other Pass- community of 80,000.
or partial scholarship assist-
ance (tuition is $600 p e r I've gone through 50 life- welfare. community "do something."
over supplies and distribut-
So far, the closest anyone year). Rabbi Friedman was times, but I've got guts. Ac-
ing the packages and small
Rabbi A. Irving Schnipper In fact, the community has
checks—estimates that more has come to assessing the aware of only a few families tually, God's been ood to of Cong. Beth Moses offered done something, Lerner says
than $10,000 went to help al- problem scientifically has on public assistance.
on my back and a marvelous, free High Holy Day ,tickets —Perhaps not on the scale
most 450 families and indi- emerged out of the division
The latter, generally, are special child. Some people to anyone who would come to that some would like, but in
of elderly care research in
viduals this year.
privately. "But the ones a positive way, nevertheless.
He gets their names from Wayne State University's so- refugees, he said. The prob- God tests a little and some a him,
who need it most don't ask Even here there are pitfalls
many sources. Some respond ciology department. lem was more acute 25 years lot. I've decided I must be
for free tickets; they insist when agencies attempt hu-
ago when we were on Dex-
Dr. Eva Kahana has nearly ter," said Rabbi Friedman. one of His chosen ones be- on paying something." man engineering.
to a form letter sent to last
year's recipients; others are completed a survey, under "Today, we see relatively
Said Dr. Eva Kahana fol- One of Lerner's staff mem-
"You know, some people
referred by the Jewish Fam- her direction, of the needs of few refugee families." They
lowing her study of the aged bers, Roger Skully, super-
ily and Children's Service; the aged in two small, rela- are assisted for a period of
* * *
in Oak Park: "We found in vises housing relocation for
still others are listed by Co- tively homogeneous commun- time through the JFCS Re-
the reports of older people JFCS. This program was
operative C o u n c i 1 of the ities: Hamtramck and Oak settlement Service, the local
that they are more satisfied spurred by the Detroit riot
League of Jewish Women's Park. Questionnaire respon- affiliate of the Hebrew Im-
and complain less than you'd of 1967, when the plight of
Organizations, an umbrella dents in the latter city were migrant Aid Society (Hias).
think, judging by what they aged, isolated and financially
organization which provides living in three areas — Fed-
There are some 15 families, ents, E. Grand Blvd., First earn. Why? There is a stigma hard-pressed Jews in the
aid to individuals and fam- eration Apartments, nursing
attached to being poor or Dexter area came to the com-
added, who receive finan- St., Oakman, Park.
homes and the general com-
Hies in want.
needing help. It's a feeling munity's attention.
They live throughout the munity.
The agency set about to
that somehow they've failed.
metropolitan area. One wom-
Ou t of th e 11/2-year-long and above the Mo'os Hitim in New York and Philadel- And it's partly Jewish pride. move these individuals to
an, in her early 90s, resides study, funded by the federal
When we asked people who more desirable areas of the
alone above a store on Gratiot government, have emerged Dorn. But only half of these tightly concentrated poverty they could turn to in time of city, primarily :71 the North-
and Mack. A few men live some surprising findings families are Orthodox.
In a small way, the Ortho- throughout the city and sub- need, it was first to family west area. Sint "967, 40 to
in rundown apartments near about the income of those
and friends. Then they chose 45 persons have ueen moved,
community helps the urbs.
Woodward Ave., or the Cass age 65 and older living in
Professionals were and the JFCS currently has
Corridor, and still others on Oak Park — of whom 67 per needy during the year through
last." some 31 relocation cases.
Dexter or in Independence cent of the respondents were
Skully recalled the pres-
Another problem, although
both cash and clothing. The prise the National Conference
Hall. There are a number of Jewish.
admittedly smaller in scope, sure that was put on the
Almost 60 per cent of the
families living in Oak Park,
was suggested by Selma agency to move one elderly
• even a few in Warren, in St. total respondents admitted to said, is on anonymity, the zations have been working Goode, organizer of the West couple from Dexter even
Clair Shores and in Dearborn. earning less than $5,000 in
* * *
erty in the Detroit Jewish Side Mothers. "A number of though they were quite happy
Dorn guesses that many 1971. A full 25 per cent of
Jewish ADC gals we've run where they were. "We took
Brenda Helfman is a 34- community.
more need help but are un- these were earning under
across," she said, "have care of their moving, ar-
known to him and to his re- $3,000.
b e e n married to Gentiles. ranged for everything. Then
Another 14.8 per cent made
ferral sources. Some are un-
These are people not identi the fellow had a heart at-
a w a r e that the Passover $5,000 to $7,000, and 6.5 per with her widowed mother in marginal incomes r e s i d e: fiable as Jews. To do a sur- tack."
service is available; and a cent reported annual income
He does not rule out the
McNichols up to M e y e r s - vey on the number of Jews
great many — a number far of $7,500 to $10,000.
of e—ntional stress in
A year and a half ago, reel-
Ninety per cent of the re-
greater than one might think
the few deaths that occurred
—are both aware and eligible spondents said they were on ing under the costs of medi- C e n t e r; Greenfield-Seven
In addition to those on among the elderly moving
for the aid, but would never Social Security. Only three cal b i 1 1 s, tuition for her Mile up to Eight Mile; Black- ADC, there are the tempo- into Federation Apartments
admit that they could use it. admitted they were on wel-
emotionally disturbed and a Apartments (Evergreen and rarily unemployed bread- two years ago.
They include the elderly, fare.
"It's been shown that when
winners, the teachers and
Dr. Kahana defines as poor mounting cost of living that Seven Mile); the Evergreen- engineers and PhDs for whom you remove certain physical
the large families whose ob-
servance of Orthodox require- those individuals earning un-
economic recession is more props, you remove emotional
ments may mean added fi- der $4,000 — almost 50 per those who cannot work, Mrs. to Eight Mile; and downtown than just a headline.
and psychological props," he
nancial burdens, the families cent of the Oak Park elderly Helfman went on ADC.
Mrs. Goode recalled a said.
—sometimes with one parent who answered the question- Aid to Dependent Children
Still, no one would --^om-
$180 a month for of Cooperative Council, has young Jewish engineer who
— whose bread-winners are nacre
was discharged f r o m the mend that the housii
The U.S. Bureau of Labor her and her daughter. Of
out of a job because of illness
Navy only to find that there cation program be 'ildifed.
, o s e figures
or economic setback.
were no jobs for his spe- When the wealthy choose to
There's a 75-year-old worn- Lerner considers to most ac_ for food stamps, $4 for lights; on both an emergency and cialty. His wife was pregnant; live in an urban setting, they
regular b a s i s are in Oak
an living in Blackstone c rately reflect standard of $8 u for h ea t ; $10 for her Park. But Blackstone the savings ebbed. He could m a y surround themselves
Manor apartments on living, defined a minimum (laughter's tuition; $16 for gas. M a n o r, Votrobeck Apart- not bring himself to go on with a blanket of security.
d g e t for a retired What remains buys clothing,
Schaefer and E i g h t Mile low budget
They may drive in and out
1970 as $2,886; an pays for her daughter's visits ments and Northwest Detroit welfare. They left Detroit of their neighborhoods to en-
also were h e a v i 1 y repre- but to face what, Mrs. Goode
"My husband and I man-
joy cultural and social op-
sented. She said 25 of the 66 doesn't know.
age on Social Security: tired couple as $4,194; and chases medicines not covered cases in the active file are
Only those registered at the p o r t u n i t i e s and to shop
When I got sick; Medicare high, $6,935. However, the by Medicaid. She gets no senior adults, and the re- offices of the Michigan Em- wherever and whenever they
paid all the bills except for bureau recommends a re- child support from her former mainder families.
ployment Security Commis- please.
the first day, but that day vision of the figures upward husband.
* * <.
sion can be counted on the The poor aged living in the
was pretty expensive. And I every year to reflect a 6 per
There is nothing new about unemployment rolls. Thus, city have no such options.
a sale on
don't want to ask my children cent cost of living increase. Jack was running
poverty, although the many professionals with some, They do not drive; they re-
Thus, since 1970, income chickens, M
for help; my son-in-law works
sudden outpouring of news- though meager, liquid assets main behind doors locked
hard for a living.
devoted to it through- would not qualify, Mrs. with double and triple bolts.
"Every Pesah I buy a new at least 18 per cent to permit in line — fractured ankle and print
country would give Goode added. To say that the Far from centers of Jewish
mop for the floor. Last year, a retired couple to buy in all — to buy her quota.
that impression. Before the situation is much worse on life, they cannot walk to
I paid $1.39. This year, it cost 1973 what they were buying
Depression, Jewish agencies the East or West Coast is shops and synagogues, nor
$2.59, and the mop wasn't in 1970. Medical and rental the Jewish Family and Chil- gave outright grants to the small comfort to the individ- socialize. Lack of mobility,
costs have mounted at an
even as good.
has been able to obtain cloth- poor; but the Crash and the ual out of work in Detroit. not lack of finances, is the
"Thank God, we get along. even faster rate.
a n o t h e r of the case• Emergency Relief Adminis- But how many fall into this problem they articulate most
These figures do not include
We have a little money for a
clients has a daugh- tration put an end to the fi- category is anyone's guess. often.
rainy day, but it's been rain- the added costs of being an
(Next week: What is being
size as Mrs. nancial support programs of There is still another group
ing an awful lot lately. Still, observant Jew. Two-thirds of
private agencies. The latter whose poverty is dire by any done for the Jewish poor, and
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS I "1 got an order through turned their attention to coun- standards. They are the is it enough?)
56 Friday, April 13, 1973