Let’s Really Try to Abolish Poverty (The New York Times)

Rabbi Joel Pitkowsky
April 1, 2023

This letter to the editor originally appeared in The New York Times on April 1, 2023.

To the Editor:

As a rabbi who works with a national organization aiming to end hunger, I was struck by the powerful indictment in Matthew Desmond’s essay and the imperatives we must embrace.

Mr. Desmond makes an eye-opening argument that we are all part of the persistent American shame of poverty because many of us benefit from systemic inequities. Moreover, he underscores that government funding for welfare programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps) — which some deride as enabling — remains a fraction of what other developed nations provide.

Hunger is among the most immediate and insidious effects of poverty and is deeply intertwined in our culture and politics. Our history reveals how we got to this point and highlights the remarkable possibilities when visionary leaders enact policies to affect systemic change.

Joel Pitkowsky
Teaneck, N.J.
The writer is the chair of the board of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.