New York – Met Council CEO Says NY Times Kiryas Joel Article Quote Taken Out of Context


    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

    Follow VosIzNeias For Breaking News Updates is here to help you make Pesach without the stress. Go to for recipes, menu planners, kids' activities, and more.


      • The times article was factually accurate although some of the editorial comments were misleading. The reality is that most KJ residents’ incomes are higher than reported when these “underground” services are accounted for and their expenses in many areas are below those of normal people. That doesn’t take away from the key point that the workforce participation levels are at crisis proportions and the pain will get worse as government subsidies are lowered or reduced entirely. Bottom line is that they will have to improve secular education and vocational training, increase the percentage of their children who work, and perhaps reduce average family size to what they can afford to feed,clothe and educate without reliance on subsidies and charity.

        • You make me vomit.

          What a despicable insensitive comment this was…

          I am not satmar and I do not live in KJ. I worked with a few Satmar chasid and I rode the commute buses — they are full.

          A lot of the people work, are good at what they do and they are nothing like your imaginary yidden. I am more worried for the litvish community in Lakewood that any of the KJ satmar chassidim.

        • “Reduce average family size to what they can afford”… I’m just making sure I heard right. I don’t care what you do, but as a yid you are not to make such a statement. Money should not be a factor for not having a large family. If you have the kids, Hashem will provide for them. Perhaps what you have to reduce is the expensive lifestyle you live in to make it more affordable. May Hashem bless those who help build up his army.

          • Does saying Hashem will provide include tzedaka or tomchei shabbos? Is that the way one is supposed to plan a family? If one has the vehicle with which Hashem can provide with then I’m all for that argument. However how can a cashier or bus driver or any job that will max out at $15 per hour justify having a large family when you know there is no way possible they can be supported without public assistance? Also, why do the children need to be forced into a life of poverty because of choices that were willingly made by their parents to have them with no real means of taking care of them?

            • So according to you rich people can have lots of kids and poor people not,
              But according to the Torah way men should get married at 18 (Ben shmona asar lechupa) and not do anything to block any natural cause of having kids beside with consultants of a morah horaha. and the one who gives life will provide the resources of life as well

            • So according to you if the Torah life contradicts your view of (so called)real life , then real life prevails. 1 question is it only regarding having children or for the rest of the Torah as well ? Enlighten me with your real life really point of view.

          • let me make sure i heard you right. if money is not a factor in having a large family and Hashem will provide, then why is there even one single family collecting social services? why are men and women not married legally by the state and then the mother is listed as unwed? if the men are “studying” all day and not earning a living to support their family and the women are tending to the many many children that they are instructed to have why should that be anybody elses responsibility? how much do you think the other people can take to support the families that have litters of kids and then cannot pay for what they need? kids are expensive and you should not breed them if you cant feed them. i dont want to pay for yours nor would you want to pay for mine as i am not one of you. the situation in these communities is not one of the poor economy and you are down on your luck for a time. it is your chosen lifestyle in the name of your religion. you are free to do whaever you want, but dont expect others to pay for it.

        • Interesting to keep seeing that the erev rav is well and alive. Same old argument. Pesach is all about emunah, about getting mizraim out of us, and the erev rav serves a divine purpose, to see their absurdity and remind us that Hashem is in complete control, always for the good.

    1. Mr. Rapfogel must be pretty naive to think that the anti-semitic and anti-Israel New York Times could ever write any article about Jews without injecting some hint of its bias.

    2. Of course his comment would be taken out of context. That is what newspapers (and media in general as well as bloggers) do. And the NYT is probably the outlet that perfected this if not out and out invented it.

    3. Mr. Rapfogel knows nothing about kiryas joel, he is only involved in downstate (city) agencies, he should’ve never said any statements on a Village that he never helped with their poor

    4. There is a world of difference between “I never said that” and “out of context”. He does not deny that he said “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.” He didn’t deny what he said because all three statements are true, and that is something all we readers of VIN know.

    5. #3 I highly doubt u are a yid. What means to what they can afford?!
      U should not own a house because if u need a mortgage who says its something you’ll be able to afford? Same goes to your whole life. In fact I believe ur parents should have considered you as something they can afford. You are a bad mouth that klal yisroel can’t afford!!!
      Paroh hated us for being to many hitler ym”s hates our population and now u come along? How despicable!!!
      Mr. Rapfogels letter seems very much in line with me. There are people taking advantage of the system but most wouldve not survived without it. And yes the government has to provide for the poor they have to provide for people who are trying hard even without a education. Not every eduvcated person is rich and not every rich person went thru college so stop that non sense. I was never in college neither did my parents or any family members for the most part we all earn better then any nurse or medical intern.

    6. The whole article is wrong.
      Mr. Rapfogel & the reporter of the NY Times don’t know the life of the Majority in K.J.
      I have B”H 8 married children bli ayin hara & 7 of them live in K.J. 5 of them Don’t have any food stamps nor section 8. They work hard for a living. The husbands are travel daily atliest 3 hours to & from work. Its a very hard situation when some of my kids Don’t have enogh to pay the tuition for their kids.
      I see many many of the yungeleit running at 6:15 AM to the bus to N.Y.C. to work & they all live a very tight life styly without Food Stamps etc.

    7. Most ironic. What many commenters (that have no clue about KJ/Satmar) fail to realize is that the Satmar Rebbe z”l was adamant about his chassidim working, (and learning on the side) so as to be self-sufficient.

      Those that keep on perpetuating the myth that the Satmar community are “leeches” what with food stamps and all – are simply ignorant. Unfortunately, this day and age (and backwards too, no doubt) many families have difficulties in making ends meet and legitimately qualify for medicaid/food stamps.

      • I’m glad you made the point about the Satmar Rebbe’s wishes that all should be working.

        However, saying that the families “legitimately qualify for medicaid/food stamps” is misleading.

        It is one thing to say that you lost your job or saw an huge decrease in your pay and that is why you qualify. Of course those deserve help in a civilized society. Even most honest Conservatives would agree. However, those who CHOOSE to live beyond their means, and those who CHOOSE to forgo an education in order to properly provide for their families do not deserve such benefits. My problem, and the problem of many “earners” is that we see people who can afford to have families of 4-5 children having 8-9 children and THEN they qualify for social assistance. Then it is not a matter of “circumstance”, but a matter of “choice”. Why do the rest of us have to pay for your CHOICES?

        What I’m saying is that a sub-culture has developed where young couples see welfare/WIC/food stamps, etc as “free money for the taking” as opposed to the last-resort it was intended to be.

        It is a dishonest playing of the system that must be stopped before there are no earners left to support the community.

        • Don’t you have to work hard during the day ?
          I see you have time to platchke on the web but no time for your children as you claimed in a previous post

          • I do work very hard, but my kids are all out of the house. I now have more “me” time.

            And, if I have to spend on the web, that is my business. I supported all my kids through school and marriage. I did my part. I just don’t understand why I have to do it for other people. I didn’t choose to have their children. Why are they putting their burdens on me? I raised my kids with no government help. My kids got an education with no government help. My kids married with no government help. My kids don’t even ask ME for money, let alone the government as I set them up with a good education so they could support themselves. Period.

            I have every right to be angry as my bank account is drained because of YOUR laziness and ignorance. I have every right to feel cheated by YOU. I did the responsible thing and now I have to pay for the freeloading, lazy bums like you who did NOTHING.

            You think you are any better than the bums in NYC who have 7 kids they can’t afford and go on welfare??? You’re not. You’re even worse because you PLANNED to live a pathetic life of ignorance, many (not all, obviously) of them were victims of circumstance. That makes you cheater and a thief, IMHO.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here