All of the High Holidays are jam-packed in the month of September, leaving only 7 full work days. Typically, people who are in the gig economy are more prone than people with salary based jobs in needing to use Masbia. For example, when one has a gap in demand for their work or doesn't feel well and can't work. This September, the Hebrew calendar has the potential to push all of them into such a situation, causing Masbia to be in high demand.
Handymen, electricians, plumbers, graphic artists, photographers, IT techs, cab drivers, and housekeepers, are all part of the gig economy, which means they only get paid for the hours they actually perform. If you are a religious Jew holding one of those types of jobs, in September of 2018 you only have 7 full business days to work. It doesn't go back to normal until October 3rd.
This phenomenon happens when the Hebrew calendar places almost all of the High Holidays in one month of the secular calendar and in the middle of the week, leaving very few days to work for an observant Jew. This phenomenon also wreaks havoc on those who are in the online ordering/Amazon business, when the whole business depends on quick fulfillment and delivery. There are many small and large businesses of such nature in the religious Jewish communities. According to some estimates, about 20% of the workforce is employed by an Amazon-related business.
As the month progresses, the tighter their pockets will get. By the time they need to pay October rent, the pressure may be unbearable. In addition to all this, for people with children in school, having so many days off means extra meals for the children since they will not be eating school meals provided by the government.
"The BPJCC is bracing for September as well", says Rabbi Avi Greenstein, Executive Director of the Boro Park Jewish Community Council. "As a social service agency that serves over 20,000 clients annually, we are expecting an even greater need to arise from within the Boro Park community given the challenges that this year's calendar will pose for so many."
In addition to the greater need, which will require more resources, having the Masbia facilities being able to receive deliveries only one or two days a week is going to be a daunting task for Masbia's staff and volunteers. Likewise, clients will have less opportunity to receive the much-needed help.
"Masbia is literally a lifesaver for many struggling New Yorkers, but more mouths to feed in September means more strain on our resources", says Adam Hofstetter, English teacher at Yeshivah Of Flatbush High School and Masbia Soup Kitchen Network board member.
In order to make sure that no one goes hungry during the High Holiday season, Masbia Soup Kitchen Network intends to increase the size of the pantry packages, including holiday staples for the clients, as well as be open more hours on the days they will be able to operate. Masbia of Boro Park will be open during the holidays and actually serve yom-tov meals. Masbia of Queens will pilot giving out cooked to-go meals for the holidays. With the help of the charity dollars we collect, we hope to feed thousands of men, women, children, Holocaust survivors, handicapped as well as the sick, thereby making sure everyone has food on their tables during the high holiday season.
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If you are an employee having trouble with your employer with taking time off for the High Holiday season, here is a link to a PDF to "A Brief Guide to Religious Rights in the Workplace", published by Agudath Israel of America. Click here. For more background on this, see their press release here.