web analytics
October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » News & Views » US » NY »

As NYC Jewish Population Grows, Haredim Deny Abusing the Safety Net


Haredi men (illustration image)

Haredi men (illustration image)
Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon / FLASH90

According to a survey of 5,993 individuals conducted in New York City and a few other locations by the UJA Federation, the Jewish community in NYC is growing, mainly fueled by an increase in the Orthodox and Chasidic community, while the population of the non-Observant is moving further and further away from their Jewish identity.

But the survey also found that intermarriage has fallen from 52 to 22 percent. Also, 40 percent of Jews in NY City say they’re Orthodox, up from 33 percent in 2002. And a full 74 percent of all Jewish children in NYC are Orthodox. Talk amongst yourself.

Jonathan Tobin, in Commentary magazine, gleefully writes that this trend spells the end of liberal Jewish values, to whit, “The assumption that most American Jews will always be secular liberals is a myth that has just been exploded,” he wrote. Another Commentary writer, Seth Mandel, took this a step further and praised the extensive social network in the Haredi and yeshivish communities. Speaking about Gemachs (private loan societies), he writes, “this network goes a long way toward making up for the material sacrifices made by low-income yeshiva households. Some Jewish communities have so many gemachs, they have their own version of the Yellow Pages. ”

Over at the Open Zion blog, Raphael Magarik uses Mandel’s support of the Chasidic community as a cudgel with which to bash in the head of Commentary. After all, the Chasidic community does rely heavily on social safety nets and social networks, which have been the bane of Commentary’s existence (granted, as Irin Carmon writes over at Tablet, it is a simplification).

Magarik, who studied at Yeshivat Maale Gilboa in Israel and the egalitarian Yeshivat Hadar in New York City, notes that Kiryat Joel, NY home of the Satmar Chasidic sect (which was not part of the UJA study, since it is outside New York City) was the poorest town in the entire USA, with the lowest median and per-capita income. Half the residents receive food stamps, one third  is on medicaid and many are relying on federal vouchers to help pay there cost.

“Welfare is, and has been for some time, a crucial ingredient in these communities,” Magarik writes. “While Chasidim take care of their own, they also get taxpayers to take care of them.”

He explains that, like Israeli Haredim, Kiryas Joel’s Chasidim “vote together to secure, for instance, a ‘luxurious 60-bed postnatal maternal care center… built with $10 million in state and federal grants.’”

Incidentally, the Village Administrator of Kiryat Joel, Gedalye Szegedin, was not so fond of  the term “poor.”

“I don’t want to be judgmental,” Szegedin told The New York Times. “I wouldn’t call it a poor community. I would say some are deprived. I would call it a community with a lot of income-related challenges.”

We contacted Rabbi Avi Shafran of Agudath Israel to assess his thoughts on the matter and he replied that Magarik’s comments, to put it politely, were “ungenerous.”

“A less polite person would call them obnoxious,” He said.

“All Americans make choices about priorities and how they wish to live their lives,” He wrote. “Typical Americans’ priorities will usually include economic success at or near the top of the list.  Others, though, will emphasize other things, some bad, some good.

“One citizen, to take an extreme example, might choose to live his or her life in a drug haze, shunning gainful employment in order to indulge in leisure activities,” Rabbi Shafran wrote. “Another may choose to dedicate himself or herself to a higher goal like helping the poor, protecting the environment, the study of the humanities — or the study of Jewish texts — even though those undertakings may not allow for their economic independence. All those citizens, we have decided as a tax-paying electorate, are deserving of a social net if they need it.”

“But to conflate the first person with the second one is the height of absurdity, in fact, of nastiness,” Shafran concluded. ” Mr. Magarik can vote for candidates who oppose the maintenance of a social net.  But to disparage citizens whose ideals have led them to lives that are benefiting from America’s embrace of and concern for all Americans is beyond the pale.”

About the Author: Michael Orbach is the Senior New York Correspondent for JewishPress.com. His work has appeared in the JTA, The Forward, The Jewish Week and Tablet. He was previously the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Star newspaper in Long Island. He is finishing up a novel.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “As NYC Jewish Population Grows, Haredim Deny Abusing the Safety Net”

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    "All those citizens, we have decided as a tax-paying electorate, are deserving of a social net if they need it."

    I agree completely. And that is why I vote Democratic. Most of today's Republican Party is committed to severely eroding, or even abolishing, that safety net.

    It is interesting much of the rhetoric directed towards religious Jews in Israel is almost identical to the rhetoric directed towards recipients of public assistance in the United States.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ismail Haniyeh, highest ranking Hamas member in Gaza, pictured Nov. 25, 2012.
Hamas Leader’s Daughter Treated in Israeli Hospital; #BDSFail
Latest News Stories
Yitzchak Shamir Road

Prime Minister Netanyahu (L) congratulates Minister Yair Shamir (M) as President Ruby Rivlin and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat look on (in the background), as Jerusalem’s new Road 9 is named after former Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir, Israel’s 7th prime minister, who passed away in 2012. Yair Shamir, who looks very much like is father (and […]

Ismail Haniyeh, highest ranking Hamas member in Gaza, pictured Nov. 25, 2012.

#BDSFail as daughter of Hamas leader is treated in Israeli hospital.

Mahmoud Abbas, acting leader of the Palestinian Authority

Abbas was denounced by the SWC for trying to disassociate Jews from their holy sites and inciting violence against them.

Bus 177 Smashed Glass

The Jerusalem Intifada continues on…

A clear majority of Jewish Israelis oppose a Palestinian state, once they’re told the details of what it means.

Hamas has continued to test-fire its homemade rockets, firing them into the Mediterranean and into the Sinai desert in Egypt, where it has spotters. It is possible that the sirens this morning were tripped by such test launches.

The General Security Services (Shabak) of the State of Israel believes that more Israeli Muslims are preparing to join ISIS.

Israeli forces take part in a mass Ebola identification training exercise at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan on October 17, 2014. Officials and employees from the Population Immigration and Border Authority, airlines, the Magen David Adom emergency medical services, the Health Ministry and the police participated in the drill, aimed at identifying travelers who […]

It’s raining today in Jerusalem, the first major rain storm of the new year.

Giuliani to keynote Klinghoffer opera’s opening night press conference and protest rally

At least 5 swastikas were discovered painted on the Temple Mount.

It is hard to believe, but Egypt is now dependent on Israel for gas instead of the other way around.

The checkpoint near Jenin was closed after the IDF thought a person passing through was a suicide bomber.

Barzilai hospital searched for its resident doctor-turned-terrorist after he disappeared and discovered that he changed professions.

The firebombs were thrown at the entrance of the hospital that faces Issawiya.

More Articles from Michael Orbach
f110414ns13

“Fourteen hours a day in yeshiva but [a student] doesn’t learn a single word of English, math, history, science, geography, music art, nothing, nothing, nothing.”

Illustration image

A high-number of Haredi women responded to the survey. Haredi women suffering from eating issues also face a particular set of challenges.

When a Reform summer camp in Mississippi invited an Orthodox summer camp for a Fourth of July celebration, the get-together became national Jewish news. The onslaught of publicity caught both camps off-guard. One camp director explained that in the deep South, Jewish camps offers a place where Jewish campers “get to be in the majority instead of the minority.”

If there’s any story inside the Jewish community that closely parallels the sexual abuse cover-up inside the Catholic Church, it’s the story of Avrohom Mondrowitz.

An Ultra-Orthodox man reading the Talmud on the subway from Underground NY Public Library. The photo blog is a project of acclaimed street photographer, Ourit Ben-Haim. In an interview, Ben-Haim said that when she takes a photograph of someone reading she sees “people who are contemplating description of new possibilities. In this way, every book […]

Jews are the least of Elmo’s problems. Four days after a man dressed in an Elmo suit was forcibly ejected from Central Park for spewing anti-Semitic propaganda, an article revealed his frightening past. “I hate those [women],” he told a news reporter in 1999.

It looks like someone went up to Charles Barron and slapped him. The former member of the City Council and the Black Panther party was handily defeated by Hakeem Jeffries for the newly redrawn 8th Congressional District. The new district is mainly African-American, with a significant percentage of Russian Jews and Hispanics. Jeffries won in a landslide with more than half the precincts reporting, taking 75 percent of the vote.

Andy Statman says the time of Klezmer has passed. Having just received the NEA National Heritage Fellowship in June for his work in bluegrass and Klezmer music, Statman admits Klezmer used to be his substitute for Jewish observance. Now that he is an Orthodox Jew, he no longer feels the need to play the music.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/ny/as-nyc-jewish-population-grows-haredim-deny-abusing-the-safety-net/2012/06/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: