“I was embarrassed and that made it so hard to ask for help,” says Bonnie. But when she could no longer afford a car she needed to get her son to medical appointments, she reached out to the Jewish community, and discovered she didn’t need to go it alone.
She also discovered that hers was far from the only Jewish family in Greater Boston who was experiencing a financial crisis. In fact, approximately one in eight families in our Jewish community is at risk of, or is currently going through tough economic times.
“One of the toughest aspects of Jewish poverty is that it’s often hidden,” says Sarah Abramson, CJP’s associate vice president of caring and social justice. “It’s easier to believe the stereotype that all Jewish families are affluent. That’s why CJP is not only providing increased services to help people stabilize their lives, we’re also working to raise awareness that the problem exists, and that we’re here to help.”
Before the birth of her son, Bonnie had been a small business owner and had also volunteered for Jewish organizations and at nursing homes. Several years ago, health issues prevented her from working and she had no option but to stop working and depend on disability benefits. Her son struggles with medical issues, and she began falling deeper into financial trouble. She needed an affordable car to get him to doctor’s appointments, and she could see that he needed a male role model in his life.
As she opened up about the problems she was struggling with, she felt the burden of shame and uncertainty begin to lift. She reached out to several of our partner agencies, and received services that are funded by CJP, including emergency financial assistance, transportation and a Big Brother volunteer mentor for her son. They also helped her work towards long-term solutions, giving budgeting advice and helping her qualify for other assistance. But she says that one of the greatest gifts was the kindness and respect she was offered.
“Between Jewish Big Brother Big Sister, Yad Chessed and Jewish Family Service of Metrowest, we've been respected and lifted up in many ways, and we're so grateful for that,” says Bonnie.
If you or someone you know in the Greater Boston Jewish community are experiencing a financial crisis, you can call CJP’s toll-free “warmline” at 1-800-CJP-9500. You’ll be connected to a compassionate and knowledgeable social worker who can connect you to a range of coordinated services throughout our community.
To learn more about how you can receive or give help, visit cjpwarmline.org today!