New York Times Publishes 18th Article Attacking Orthodox Jews

Photo: Agudath Israel/Naftoli Goldgrab

On Monday morning, the New York Times published yet another lengthy, prejudicial article against Orthodox Jews, this time targeting Kiryas Joel. Frum groups are decrying the blatant bigotry.

Agudath Israel of America

This morning, the New York Times published yet another lengthy, prejudicial article against Orthodox Jews, this time targeting Kiryas Joel, a village which “is almost entirely populated by Hasidic Jews.”  

The Times focuses its harsh spotlight on certain legitimate, school-related payments made by the Kiryas Joel school district to the United Talmudical Academy (U.T.A.) of Kiryas Joel. The report seems determined to find a scandal. But other than reiterating concerns about conflict-of-interest policies, the Times fails to find its smoking gun.  

Is it nefarious or even surprising that when seeking to rent specialized school space, the district would do so from the nonprofit that supplies the majority of it in the district, and “provides schooling for most of the children in Kiryas Joel?” Moreover, ominous innuendo notwithstanding, is it scandalous that the district repaired the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system in the facility in which children with special education needs were learning? 

To be sure, the Times includes a few sentences of balance in the article, including statements by District superintendent, Joel Petlin, and a brief acknowledgment that:  

“Federal regulators have given the Kiryas Joel school system high marks over the years for the services it offers its students. And village leaders have said the school district is essential to accommodate Hasidic children with disabilities who cannot receive aid in the community’s private schools and might become targets of ridicule in other nearby public schools.” 

But these plaudits are quickly discarded. The Times seems offended by the very notion of doing business with Hasidic Jews. It continues: 

“But the money it sends to the U.T.A. and its affiliates has done more than just secure classroom space for the public-school programs. It has supported private schools that provide thousands of boys with only cursory instruction in English and math, and barely any science or social studies, setting some back for life.” 

In other words, because the Times objects to the religious education that Hasidic Jews choose to offer their children, it is suggesting implementing a BDS, of sorts, for Hasidic Jewish institutions. Don’t do business with Hasidic institutions. Who knows, that money might support their religious education!  

The New York Times portrays Hasidic Jews as ultra-religious, self-dealing caricatures, as black and white as the traditional garb they wear.  

KnowUs, a project of Agudath Israel of America, urges all people of good faith – left, right, and center – to join the chorus of voices calling out the Times’ disturbing and unrelenting obsession with demonizing Orthodox Jews; its lack of balance; its irresponsibility in stoking the blazing flames of antisemitism; and its lack of critical context when presenting stories – at least when involving Orthodox Jews – the inclusion of which would paint a far more accurate, and full-colored picture.   

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