Setting aside community resources for those less fortunate is a custom common to all religions, but it is a tradition, in modern-day Los Angeles, at least, that is becoming increasingly difficult to keep.
We are all too aware that the economy of California in general, and Los Angeles in particular, is hurting. Unfortunately, those being hurt the most are the people who
rely on such social-service organizations as Jewish Federation Council and United Way to provide desperately needed assistance.
Organizations providing aid to these people are dependent on contributions. A downturn in the economy is all too often followed by a downturn in contributions. In the past, government grants could be counted on to make up the difference. That is not the case this time.
The Talmud states that when times are tough, that is precisely the time to give to charity, because that is when it means the most. Not only do more people need aid, but when you yourself are hurting, a gift to a charity becomes much more meaningful for the giver.
Sure, times are tough for everyone. But perhaps it is important to remember the old Chinese proverb, "I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man with no feet."