New York – On April 20 The NY Times published a news article highlighting the Village of Kiryas Joel, The Times printed a quote from William E. Rapfogel, chief executive of the Metropolitan Jewish Council on Poverty, as saying, “Sure, there are probably people taking advantage and people in the underground economy getting benefits they’re not entitled to, but there are also a lot of poor people.”
Mr Rapfogel in a letter sent to the editors of The NY Times, says his quote was taken out of context, see below:
To the editor,
In the article “A Village With the Numbers, Not the Image, of the Poorest Place” (New York Times; April 21, 2011), my quote about the “underground economy” was taken out of context from a longer explanation.
The incredibly close family structure and communal support system that exists in places like Kiryas Joel, Williamsburg, and Borough Park help to ensure that families remain intact by assisting parents with baby sitting, school tuition, and camp scholarships. Lending institutions not only provide interest-free financial loans, but also loaners of cribs, strollers, clothing, wedding dresses and even vacuum cleaners. We are talking about a luxury-free society; no fancy cars, jewelry or clothing, no television, and an aversion from most trends and popular culture.
As the article points out, Kiryas Joel is an extremely poor community and the concept of “poor Jews” is an oxymoron to many people. The majority of those receiving benefits and entitlements are legitimately getting what they are qualified for. However some people, like in other communities, take advantage of the system. The quote included in the New York Times article neglected to include my feelings on those that desperately need and receive these valuable services, and may have given the impression that I was implying abuse of the system is more widespread than it actually is.
William E. Rapfogel
Chief Executive Officer
Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty