The New York Times has leveled a barrage of outrageous attacks recently on our Hasidic and Haredi (or “Ultra-Orthodox”) communities. These articles present a grossly distorted picture of our Yeshivas and our way of life. They disparage our way of life writ large — everything from the way we educate our children to the way we handle marriage, divorce and custody disputes, to the way we support our families while holding fast to our faith and traditions.
The Hasidic community in New York is thriving, but you wouldn’t know that from the New York Times. Its coverage has lacked any semblance of balance and lobbed accusations bordering on slander.
We are here to set the record straight and ask our own questions about what’s being reported in the pages of the New York Times:
- Why is our community being unfairly attacked? We are not the only community in New York that practices culturally sensitive education. Yet, there have been nearly a dozen articles picking apart our schools and our community.
- Why is our community’s success being mischaracterized? The New York Times contends that our community is impoverished. Nonsense. Our median income is higher than average, and our schools graduate thousands upon thousands of higher education students, professionals and business leaders. Yes, our families are much larger and younger than the average U.S. family, and so to measure us against the federal poverty rate is sloppy at best and deliberately misleading at worst.
- Why are we being singled out and scrutinized for legally mandated spending? We are saving New York taxpayers money. Our parents largely self-fund our education system, after tax, to the tune of $2 billion a year. Our private schools do receive some public funding. However, the vast majority of that funding is spent on legally mandated services required by the federal government, from student transportation to school lunch.
- Why are our schools being accused of rampant child abuse? The New York times asserts there have been “more than a dozen claims” of child abuse at yeshivas over a five-year period. We can all agree that even just one allegation of child abuse is one too many, and our schools have zero tolerance for sex abuse or corporal punishment. Still, it’s important to note that the figure cited by the Times pales in comparison to the thousands of complaints at public schools that have been met with the paper’s silence — 16,671 complaints alleging corporal punishment to be exact, from January 2016 through June 2021.
The vast majority of graduates from our yeshivas go on to lead successful lives. There are tens of thousands of successful professionals, from doctors to lawyers to professors who have attended our yeshivas. Why weren’t any of their stories included in these vast “investigations”?
Thanks to these “investigations,” New York policymakers are attempting to single out our community and impose draconian standards on our private schools — standards which are not imposed on New York’s public schools. Why are our yeshivas being singled out and targeted and being held to unfair and outdated standards?
And finally, why are New York Times reporters basing their reporting on a fringe group of anti-Orthodox agitators who were created for the sole purposed of fundamentally upending Orthodox and Hasidic education?
These misinformed attacks on our way of life should stop. They are not helping anyone. In fact, at a time when anti-Semitic violence is on the rise, they elevate the threat to our well-being.
We ask policymakers, journalists and all New Yorkers to respect diversity and embrace the cultural patchwork that is New York, including Orthodox Jewish communities. It’s time to champion faith, freedom and facts.
For more information, visit us at www.KnowUs.org and follow us on Twitter at @KnowUs_
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