Sunday, July 02, 2006

V’lo raiti tzadik neh-eh-zav (?), and I have not seen a righteous person forsaken (?)—a Jew living hand-to-mouth speaks out

Naar hayati, gam zakanti, v’lo raiti tzadik neh-eh-zav, v’zar’o m’vakesh lachem, A youth I was, also I have aged, and I have not seen a righteous person forsaken, and his children [literally, seed] seeking bread.” (Psalm 37, verse 25) We say this at the end of Birkat haMazon, Grace After Meals, and I’ve never been comfortable with it.

Here’s what Barefoot Jewess had to say, after quitting a job in which she was treated so inhumanely that she landed in the hospital suffering from dehydration:

“ . . . I was and continue to be one of the working poor. Working poor are people who barely make enough to live on, get no benefits, and live hand to mouth.

Very few people with Jblogs know what it means to be really poor, grindingly poor, even though you have a job, and to be counting every cent, all the while knowing that this poverty may never end- that the future holds more of the same, and that "upward mobility" began sliding downhill when you got divorced and older, with distant friends, and no immediate family.

. . .

When you are poor people treat you as if you are stupid. . . . No matter how learned or educated or wise you are. They treat you as if you can't possibly know much, or have an opinion that matters. . . .they rarely ask you what it is you need or know or have to say or what your story is. When you are poor people treat you . . . every which way but humanly. . . . People assume things about you because you have no money, and it's never anything other than embarrassing. . . To be poor is to be powerless. To be poor is to have your experience, your life, and your person denied, diminished and dismissed. Yes, Virginia, amidst so much abundance, life can be that harsh- and privation is a reality, especially in the way others deprive you of your dignity. . . ”

And then she tells us that she volunteers at a homeless shelter every few months, and loves it.

Read the rest here, and, if you’re fortunate enough to have medical insurance, be grateful.


Blogger Jack Steiner said...

Such a heartwrenching tale.

Mon Jul 03, 07:23:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Jack, I suffered the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortune known as temping--no benefits, and no paid days off, even when the whole building is closed for a holiday--for many years, and I'm not convinced that there are enough good jobs to go around, especially for older women. And even full-time employment is not necessarily synonymous with making a living. If I had to support my husband and son on this so-called salary of mine, we'd be in big trouble (though my organization does offer health benefits, thank goodness).

Tue Jul 04, 12:45:00 AM 2006  

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