Forgive me for stating the obvious; you don’t have to look far to find individuals struggling with parnassah in our community. There’s the young couple, both in grad school, whose parents help pay for the child care costs of their baby so they can finish up school. The middle aged couple struggling to come up with the funds to afford a yeshivah education (plus a year in Israel) for each of their five children is another example. And there’s the single mom working her day job plus smaller jobs as a freelancer so she can provide the minimum for herself and her children.

We all know and see these individuals who, despite every attempt they make, still need government assistance or the local community’s tzeddakah dollars.

But these are just the classic examples; the cliches of struggling, hard working middle class individuals who just barely make ends meet. They’re the ‘folks’ politicians love to mention when talking about economic development policies and the income inequality our country faces. It helps politicians sound like they know what’s happening (or not happening) in their communities. But these examples of struggling families are just that: examples.

In my time working at Parnassah Network, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the Orthodox Jewish community with tools and resources to help job seekers and business owners, I’ve seen that there is no ‘example’ of a strained family and that the struggle for parnassah is one that affects almost every family, every individual.

The business owner that others see as a ‘local boy done good’ or the guy who ‘pulled himself up by his own bootstraps’ might be struggling to make payroll every month. The woman who started a thriving service based business and managed to secure government contracts, much to the admiration of her friends and family, is actually fighting each day to keep her company afloat with the all the competition that has suddenly flooded her niche. The entrepreneur whose brilliant innovation became an overnight success is actually riddled with anxiety and floundering as to how to scale his business, find investors or make the difficult decisions every business owner needs to make. And the professional woman with a senior position and impressive resume is frustrated. The position she’s worked her whole life to achieve is out of reach for her because of gender or her family life that prevents her from extensive travel or 80 hour weeks.

These individuals struggle too. They may not have to worry about putting food on the table tomorrow. But when they lie awake at night, each in their own homes they’ve bought in expensive thriving neighborhoods with good Jewish schools, they might wonder if they’ll be able to maintain their own salary needed to pay their mortgage every month now that they need to hire a marketing director or invest in new software…

As King David wrote: “Tzarchei Amchah Merubah…” the needs of your people are many. This is especially true in today’s complex, super competitive economy. The pressure for individuals and businesses to excel is crushing as computers replace jobs, overseas employees replace American workers and the internet replaces almost all the ways we once did business. While the college graduation of the past could assume a secure, well-paying job, today’s grads know that they are easily replaceable and entering a job market that is saturated with employees but slim with actual jobs.

Because of the complexities and many needs of our people, we at Parnassah Network have developed a broad array of services to help. It’s not enough to connect individuals to business coaches and mentors who can help them or to provide them with an affordable full day seminar on how to launch their business, both services we provide. With our Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce (OJC) online directory of members, we are able to help business owners find service providers in the Jewish community to help with the many aspects of running a business. One individual recently told us that he was able to start his business from scratch by finding all the resources for accountants, graphics artists and more from our OJC member listing. 

But before you give up hope and cry over the ‘good old days’, hear this: while secure and lucrative job opportunities are scarce, thanks to the technology available today, the opportunity for resourceful, ambitious entrepreneurs to get started is more exciting than ever. There are innovative solutions that we at Parnassah Network have seen implemented to achieve phenomenal success. The tools available today are so fantastic in their abilities that it would make the entrepreneurs of our grandparents’ generation envious to see how easily and cheaply we do our bookkeeping, find new customers around the world, hire workers in the Philippines, or connect with an influential leader in our industry.

That’s where this new article series from the Parnassah Network comes in. In attempt to educate and raise awareness, I will share insights into the struggles facing individuals in our community striving to make a living. I hope it can become a platform to have an important discussion about the economic challenges and opportunities facing each of us in this new era.  

It’s an exciting time to be working, running a business, and developing a personal brand and the challenges, if addressed with an entrepreneurial and creative perspective, can be just as invigorating.

Are you up to the challenge?

Parnassah Network is a nonprofit that educates, trains, and connects individuals and businesses in all parnassah related aspects via multiple networking programs and platforms. Founded by Duvi Honig, Parnassah Network services people of all stages based on their individual needs. To learn more about our many services visit   Contact us at [email protected]