Photo Credit: The Jewish Press
One of two billboards – this one outside the Lincoln Tunnel – placed by Agudath Israel of America to counter what they have said are unfair attacks by The New York Times against Orthodox Jews.

The Agudath Israel of America, the leading advocacy group for the charedi community, kicked off an unprecedented media campaign this week against The New York Times for its ongoing article series criticizing New York’s yeshiva system.

The campaign, dubbed Know Us, launched with high profile billboards in Time Square and over Lincoln Tunnel that link the rise in antisemitism with the recent spate of Times articles. A third billboard will be unveiled this week across from the Times headquarters. The billboards are intended to promote the initiative’s website,, where the Agudah explains why the Times coverage is unfair and points out the positive attributes of yeshiva education.


“You reach a certain tipping point when a newspaper devotes such substantial resources, with nothing positive to say, and sometimes stretches the truth to say bad things,” Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudah’s Executive Vice-President, told The Jewish Press. “We decided to start project Know Us to counter the negative image portrayed in media outlets. The Times was an important place to start.”

The Times series began in September with a lengthy article asserting that chassidic yeshivas for boys were providing little to no secular education as mandated by state law. Many Orthodox organizations and leaders criticized the series as unbalanced and inaccurate.

The latest Times story in the series, published on December 29, went beyond the chassidic sector and claimed that a disproportional amount of city funds was being spent on special education services in all types of yeshivas.

Agudah publicly pushed back that this latest article was also unfair and inaccurate.

“The New York Times confirms, for the 13th time in just three and a half months, its obsession with spreading misinformation and demonizing Orthodox and Hasidic Jews,” the Agudah said in a statement. “At the same time, antisemitic attacks specifically targeting the visibly Jewish in New York City – the ones targeted by the New York Times – have risen exponentially.”

The Times declined to provide a representative to be interviewed but emailed a statement to The Jewish Press: “Our reporters have spent months seeking to help readers understand what is happening inside some of New York’s lowest-performing schools, speaking to hundreds of parents, students, and educators to explain the inner workings of Hasidic Jewish religious schools, which receive substantial amounts of public money. Interviews with more than 50 people currently in the community showed a failure to provide the basic education that is required by state law, leaving students unable to navigate the outside world … We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting.”


New Approach

The billboards are a new approach for Agudah, which typically uses behind the scenes diplomacy with key players to resolve issues. In fact, Rabbi Zwiebel said he had an off-the-record meeting with the Times recently but it did not yield results. He said the publicity campaign was therefore a necessary response given the ongoing articles’ harm to the reputation of yeshivas and Orthodox Jews overall. Although the Times series focuses on chassidic boys’ yeshivas, Agudah is taking the approach that an attack on any Jew is an attack on all Jews. also will provide content showing the public and press the positive attributes of the Orthodox community. “It’s a beautiful community,” Zwiebel pointed out. “Our commitment to ourselves and our tradition. All the chesid projects, gemachs, ways in which people are generously giving of their time and resources to help. That part of the story is left out.”

Zwiebel also announced to The Jewish Press that the Know Us project is intended to have a broader mission than responding to the recent Times articles.

“We need a defense agency, a media watchdog,” Zwiebel said. “The Anti-Defamation League was founded to combat defamation of Jew and has since expanded to protect others. The Agudah is looking at a narrower focus – defamation of Orthodox Jews. This project can become like an ADL for the Orthodox community.”

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