Inflation Hits Orthodox Jobless

Orthodox Jews completing the Kolel (post-graduate yeshiva study) are among those hardest hit by rising inflation in the New York area. In a recently completed study by Project COPE, the career guidance and job training agency of Agudath Israel of America, Orthodox Jews were found to be unable to take advantage of new jobs opening in management and related fields because the entry level salary did not meet subsistence level living requirements.

In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Rabbi Menachem Lubinsky, director of Project COPE, said that a typical entry level salary of $13,000 for a family of four is “far below” that needed to maintain basic living expenses. Lubinsky added that his agency has opened a special desk to deal with the hardship cases. The special desk is run by Rabbi Moshe Bornstein, who will work with the estimated 100 unemployed Orthodox Jews throughout the metropolitan area who have registered so far. Bornstein, who faced similar problems in his own career direction, will attempt to place these unemployed in suitable jobs and retrain others to meet the demands of changing job markets.

Project COPE also assists the wives of the Kolel students in finding better paying careers in order to support their husbands and families. In this way, many graduate students who would be forced to abandon their studies in order to obtain more lucrative employment, are able to continue their careers in Jewish education and communal affairs.

Project COPE also aims to retrain and place. Orthodox Jews, often supporting large families, who are employed in low paying jobs often within the Jewish educational system. Orthodox Jews maintaining unprofitable small businesses and professional practices will also benefit from Project COPE’s emphasis on retraining and career guidance.

In summarizing the indings of the study, the COPE statement concluded, “Because Jewish poverty and unemployment is not concentrated in self-contained communities as is the case with other ethnic groups, the enormity of the problem is not easily visible. However, the sum total of dozens of isolated pockets does make for an enormous problem. The future direction of COPE’s plans and programs will in large measure aim at dealing with this problem area.”

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