Being the Boxing Rabbi means that I only train in authentic boxing gyms. No upscale health clubs for me. Currently, I train in a gritty part of Orange, NJ, about 25 minutes from my home. Orange is part of the decaying sprawl that begins in Newark, and ends abruptly in the gilded communities of Short Hills, West Orange, and Livingston.
Every morning on my way to the gym, I pass an intersection that is lined with decaying and closed storefronts. Milling in front of the shuttered buildings are dozens, sometimes hundreds of Latino men, dressed in work clothes, vying for the few hardscrabble jobs that day. Every so often a contractor’s truck drives up, workers dash to the window, and after a few minutes a couple of men pile in and drive off. There is often a cop on the next block, but whether due to laziness, corruption, or compassion he does nothing to halt this activity.
Yesterday, I witnessed something that still disturbs me. As I was idling in traffic, a powder blue late model Jaguar XK pulled up to the curb in front of the men. A middle-aged blonde woman leaned over and beckoned to a few of the men. After some talk, two of them got in the car and drove off. Clearly, one of the affluent residents of a nearby town decided to cut out the middleman and simply hire day workers herself. How thrifty! How clever! How her husband must beam with pride as she boasts of driving over to the rough part of town and saving themselves a few bucks by hiring the gardener herself! Just like those contractors!
This is America in 2014. A small percentage enjoy lives beyond imagination, excellent education, food and healthcare, while so many labor in poverty and hardship, with little hope of advancement. There is no indication that anything will change soon. At the Passover we say, “Let All who are Hungry Come and Eat”. In America we say, “Let all who are hungry, come and be exploited”