by Gil Shefler
A pregnant Darfuri woman at a refugee camp in Chad, a Latino senior citizen living below the poverty line in the Bronx and an elderly Jewish immigrant from the former Soviet Union living in Boston.
They may not know it, but these individuals are all beneficiaries of programs run by Jewish organizations with public money.
Susan Rack, the director of Covenant House, a B'nai B'rith-run home in Boston for the elderly, has a staff of 10 nurses and maintenance workers caring for more than 300 tenants, mostly Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Although the home is in relatively good financial standing thanks to a recently awarded $3 million grant, the current cutbacks might force Rack to reduce salary costs.
"Do we do it by cutting everybody's hours or by cutting one person?" she said. "I'm not sure."
B'nai B'rith runs 38 such homes across the United States, and their directors are likely to face similar dilemmas if federal spending on the elderly is cut.
"If the sequester were to go into effect in two months from now, that could affect our ability to serve residents we already have as well as bring new residents," said Rachel Goldberg, B'nai B'rith's director of aging policy.
In the buildup to the March 1 deadline, B'nai B'rith, the Jewish Federations of North America and many other Jewish groups are lobbying lawmakers in a bid to blunt reductions. In those efforts, Goldberg said, they have found friends and foes on both sides of the aisle.
"At this point, parties themselves have pretty interesting patterns within their caucuses," she said. "We've seen within the Republican Party there were disagreements. We've walked into Democratic offices and found less friendliness than expected and the other way around."
When approaching politicians, Goldberg says, the most important thing to stress is that "spending cuts do not fall disproportionately on low-income citizens and elderly-spending programs...more.
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