As the month of Nissan begins, it’s the same ritual over again- time to donate. The cost of grocery items skyrocket during Passover, and empty shopping carts by the checkout counter collecting food donations remind us all of the families who are unable to celebrate the holiday properly and who wait in lines for Kosher for Passover food packages. During the holiday itself and while we are enjoying the Passover Seder, we are reminded to help the needy through the ancient custom of “Kimcha D’Pischa.”
One must wonder if the motivation for donating doesn’t divert the public discussion from an honest and thorough outlook on poverty. We find ourselves asking, “What happens to the poor after Passover?”
Even with Passover food packages, the poor and their families will remain poor after they have celebrated the holiday. If they were hungry before, they will be hungry after. If they weren’t hungry, but they had other daily social and economic struggles, then we haven’t assisted them at all. We would hope that the recipients of food packages this year won’t be in line again next year. Does all of the energy we spend on campaigns and donations really bring about the results we want to see?
We must move beyond the physical food packages and look at the bigger picture. We at Paamonim focus significantly on the improvement and results of those who turn to us for help, including middle-class, working families. Financial distress expresses itself in many different ways- while some may be hungry, others may be experiencing different social and economic struggles that accompany poverty.
The issue of poverty requires much thought and action. At Paamonim, we ask ourselves how we can teach families to overcome their existing condition for the present and the future. Long-term stability cannot be insured by a one-time hand-out, but must be taught through instilling the knowledge, guidance and tools for proper management so that families can live stably themselves. After many years of experience, Paamonim has proven that this is possible: for more than a decade we have helped more than 20,000 families become financially independent in Israel by teaching them how to manage their finances properly.
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” This famous parable is most fitting during the days before Passover, where we must decide to eradicate poverty by giving people the tools to help themselves.
The author is the CEO of Paamonim