At Masbia, we have seen a 500% increase in demand in the past year and a half due to the pandemic. As the High Holidays approach, that number will increase even more. This is due to the extended unemployment benefits ending on September 5th as well as the fact that all of the High Holidays are jam-packed into the month of September, leaving only 6 full workdays and 7 half days. Typically, people who are in the gig economy are more prone to find themselves in need of emergency food than people with salary-based jobs. For example, when one is ill and unable to work, or one has a gap in demand for their work. Due to the holiday observance, this September has the potential to push all of them into such a situation, causing a huge strain on their income.
Handymen, electricians, plumbers, graphic artists, photographers, IT techs, cab drivers, and housekeepers, are all part of the gig economy, which means they only get paid for the hours they actually perform. If you are a religious Jew holding one of these types of jobs, in September of 2021, you have very limited workdays to operate.
This phenomenon happens when the Hebrew calendar places all of the High Holidays in one month of the secular calendar and in the middle of the week, leaving very few days to work for an observant Jew.
This also wreaks havoc on those who are in the online ordering/Amazon business, when the whole business depends on quick fulfillment and delivery. There are many small and large businesses of such nature in the religious Jewish communities. According to some estimates, about 20% of the workforce is employed by an Amazon-related business.
As the holiday month progresses, the tighter their pockets will get. By the time they need to pay October rent, the pressure may be unbearable. In addition to all this, for families with children in school, having so many days off means extra meals at home for the children, since they will not be eating school meals provided by the government.
In addition to the greater need, which will require more resources, having the Masbia facilities being able to receive deliveries only one or two days a week is going to be a daunting task for our staff and volunteers. Likewise, our clients will have fewer days available for emergency food pick-up. We will be open more hours on the days we can be open to accommodate some of that. This includes an opening on Sundays, so we will have four more days to help in the month of September.
"Masbia is literally a lifesaver for many struggling New Yorkers, but more mouths to feed in September means more strain on our resources", says Adam Hofstetter, English teacher at Yeshivah of Flatbush High School and Masbia Soup Kitchen Network Co-Chair.
In order to make sure that no one goes hungry during the High Holiday season, Masbia Soup Kitchen Network intends to: 1. Increase the size of the pantry packages, including holiday staples for the clients; 2. Be open more hours on the days we will be able to operate; 3. Be open on Sundays; 4. Prior to each Shabbos and holiday, we will give out pre-cooked Shabbos and Yom Tov meals-to-go, in addition to our Boro Park location being open during Shabbos and the holidays serving traditional meals.
With your help, we hope to feed thousands of men, women, children, Holocaust survivors, the disabled, and the sick, thereby making sure everyone has food on their tables during the High Holiday season. $10 sponsors a ready-to-eat meal, and $54 sponsors an emergency food package of raw groceries for a family.
We are still offering some great gifts from Farmer Lee Jones, with your donation online. You can find these, Shana Tova cards, and other interesting gifts at the Masbia online store. Check it out at masbia.org/store
Please, help make all this happen. Click here.
Shana Tova Cards, here.
If you are an employee having trouble with your employer with taking time off for the High Holiday season, here is a link to a PDF to "A Brief Guide to Religious Rights in the Workplace", published by Agudath Israel of America. Click here. For more background on this, see their press release here.