Riverdale is widely regarded as an affluent neighborhood. But here and in the rest of the Bronx, a wide population struggles to make ends meet.
“Part of the issue is, in Riverdale, people outlive their resources. It happens all the time,” said Brad Silver, the executive director of the Bronx Jewish Community Council (BJCC).
On Nov. 22, BJCC organized its annual Project HOPE Hanukkah Package Delivery. Volunteers delivered 432 packages of food for the upcoming holiday to seniors around the Bronx who are either homebound or considered impoverished.
Sam and Oliver Keimweiss, eighth-grade students at Horace Mann School, volunteered to fulfill a graduation requirement. Their mother, Alice Keimweiss, encouraged the boys to communicate with the recipients of the food as they went from home to home.
“That’s as valuable as providing the food,” she said.
Of course, the problem of poverty is not confined to the elderly. A survey by the UJA Federation of New York found 45 percent of Jewish children in New York City come from households considered “poor or near-poor.” Stats from the federation’s “Jewish Community Study of New York 2011 Geographic Profile” showed the Bronx as one of the least affluent areas for Jewish people, with 17 percent of Jewish households in the borough reporting annual incomes greater than $100,000.
“Poverty is a problem that impacts the Jewish community and, really, every community in New York State,” said Ann Toback of the Workmen’s Circle, which helped organize a recent forum on the issue.
The Oct. 21 session, featuring Councilmen Ydanis Rodriguez, whose district includes part of Marble Hill, and Mark Levine focused on solutions to poverty. Ms. Toback said it resulted in renewed support for the “Fight for 15” movement to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“Forty-five percent of Jewish households in the New York area are at or near the poverty line” she said. “A major response to this epidemic is fighting for a living wage. We think that that is one of the strongest responses you can bring to the table.”