Hasidic college district says NY Occasions on a ‘mission’ to focus on Orthodox Jews with reporting, not journalism

Hasidic college district says NY Occasions on a ‘mission’ to focus on Orthodox Jews with reporting, not journalism

Over the previous a number of months, The New York Occasions has revealed investigative tales specializing in Hasidic colleges in New York which have been derided by critics together with the Anti-Defamation League, who say the studies are fueling antisemitism as reported crimes towards the Jewish individuals proceed hovering.  

The Occasions revealed yet one more report on Feb. 20, this one specializing in Kiryas Joel Union Free College District positioned within the village of Kiryas Joel roughly 50 miles north of Manhattan. The group is made of virtually totally Hasidic Jews and the varsity district was established particularly for kids with disabilities. 

The report, titled “How Public Cash Goes to Assist a Hasidic Village’s Non-public Faculties,” prompt that the taxpayer-funded college district was misappropriating its spending, which is already underneath a bureaucratic microscope by the state. 

“I obtained the vibe that he was despatched on a mission, and that mission was to not current a good image of the group or of the varsity district,” Joel Petlin mentioned about Occasions investigative reporter Jay Root. “I spent actually hours and hours with the reporter explaining issues, discussing points, reviewing materials, explaining how issues work. And he actually got here to the desk with a bias as a result of he is an investigative journalist with actually zero expertise with schooling points, with federal grant points, with any protection of faculties, something concerning the Jewish group… He got here with an project, and that project was to search out no matter monetary filth he might on the varsity district.”

“And I do not imagine that he uncovered something that is surprising. I imply, all of our transactions are aboveboard. Every thing that we do is reviewed by the state. Now we have auditors which might be always reviewing our program and reviewing our monetary issues,” Petlin added. 

The New York Times has been under fire in recent months for a series of reports targeting Hasidic schools deemed by critics as fueling antisemitism.

The New York Occasions has been underneath hearth in latest months for a sequence of studies focusing on Hasidic colleges deemed by critics as fueling antisemitism. (DON EMMERT/AFP by way of Getty Pictures)

Petlin, the superintendent of the varsity district, acknowledged one audit from 2009, which was highlighted within the Occasions report, after two members of its college board voted to spend tax cash on a 30-year contract lease of a constructing from a non-public Jewish schooling group fairly than pay for brand new building. These two board members are additionally on the board of that personal group. Nevertheless, he careworn “that is 14 years in the past.”

Following the Occasions’ first reporting on Hasidic colleges in September 2022, a undertaking referred to as KnowUs from Agudath Israel of America was launched to fight the paper’s portrayal of the Orthodox Jewish group. Its web site blares a banner that there have been “12 New York Occasions articles towards Orthodox Jews in 3 months.”


In a press launch following the story’s publishing, KnowUs slammed the now “18th article and counting” from the Occasions since September, calling it “prejudicial” and “appears decided to discover a scandal” with no smoking gun.

“Is it nefarious and even shocking that when searching for to hire specialised college house, the district would achieve this from the nonprofit that provides nearly all of it within the district, and ‘offers education for a lot of the kids in Kiryas Joel?’ Furthermore, ominous innuendo however, is it scandalous that the district repaired the heating, air flow, and air-con (HVAC) system within the facility during which kids with particular schooling wants have been studying?” KnowUs requested. “The Occasions appears offended by the very notion of doing enterprise with Hasidic Jews… The New York Occasions portrays Hasidic Jews as ultra-religious, self-dealing caricatures, as black and white as the standard garb they put on.”  

The Occasions seems to have gone all-in on its rising area of reporting that the paper created its personal “Highlight” webpage that archives the sequence of articles. 

“It is not journalism, but it surely’s good for enterprise,” Petlin mentioned. “They take away the paywall on the article they revealed to get extra pleasure about it. A number of the articles really translate into Yiddish to attempt to get extra individuals to learn them from inside the group. It is a mission. It is nicely past balanced journalism.” 

The New York Time dedicated a "Spotlight" page entirely to its reporting about Hasidic schools in New York. 

The New York Time devoted a “Highlight” web page totally to its reporting about Hasidic colleges in New York.  (Screenshot/NYTimes.com)

Petlin drew consideration to the Occasions’ tip line that was posted final fall after it revealed its first report on Hasidic colleges, interesting to readers, “We wish to speak to former college students, in addition to dad and mom, lecturers and particular schooling suppliers and others with experiences with schooling in Orthodox and Hasidic colleges in addition to the Kiryas Joel public college district.” The paper is not accepting ideas. 

“There’s 700 college districts in New York State. And I’ve by no means seen The New York Occasions solicit for- clearly all of the hateful feedback, solely issues within the negative- for some other college district however this one, the Kiryas Joel college district, figuring out who we’re and what we do,” Petlin mentioned. 

Petlin informed Fox Information Digital that one of many college’s speech therapists requested him if she might attain out to the Occasions to defend the varsity district. He gave her the inexperienced mild. 


In mid-November, Rochel Berman, a 25-year veteran on the Kiryas Joel college district, despatched the next message to the Occasions, which was shared with Fox Information Digital:

“I’m a Speech therapist offering companies within the Kiryas Joel UFSD.  I can emphatically state that the Particular Schooling system in Kiryas Joel is great.  The youngsters are all educated to the very best of their skills and are supplied with glorious therapies together with Speech Remedy, Bodily Remedy, Occupational Remedy and Psychological Remedy. The care and concern for every little one is inspiring and the employees typically goes out of their means to assist every little one and supply the absolute best companies. The varsity administration is at all times in search of methods to assist the kids progress and they’re keen to implement any program, reminiscent of ABA companies, Imaginative and prescient Remedy, Coaching in Actions of Every day Dwelling and others that may profit the kids. I’ve been a Speech Therapist for 39 years and I’ve labored in plenty of colleges together with colleges in NYC, on Staten Island, in New Metropolis NY and in New Jersey. I’ve been working within the KIryas Joel college for the previous 25 years and might actually state that they supply the best high quality degree of service that I’ve seen. I’m proud to be part of their system.”

A number of days later, she was contacted by Root, who authored the story on Kiryas Joel. 

“He requested me very main questions,” Berman informed Fox Information Digital in an interview. “He had an agenda. He saved saying, ‘I do know they educate faith within the college.’ I saved saying, ‘I by no means noticed them educate faith.’ He mentioned, ‘I do know they educate faith. I have been informed they educate faith.’ And I defined to him… our entire district is particular schooling. Our youngsters vary in age from three years to 21, they usually operate in age from three months to possibly six mentally. So we’re not educating three-month-olds, four-month-olds, six month- they’re very severely handicapped kids. If they will in any respect operate, they go to their common colleges. These are very severely handicapped kids.” 


Berman careworn that Root wasn’t nasty of their discussions however described him as being “persistently biased.”

“He saved going again to the faith and he saved going again to what individuals have been being paid and who these individuals have been,” Berman mentioned. “He simply could not share something good. And I informed him, ‘You sound like a pleasant man, however you are listening with a biased ear. Perhaps you get it out of your workplace. I do not know the place you get it from, however you are not listening to something that I am saying that is good. You simply preserve asking me questions on issues I’ve already answered… There is a bias there.’ So he mentioned, ‘I do not perceive. There’s completely no bias on the Occasions.’ So I mentioned, ‘Pay attention, you are not listening to me… I am telling you this stuff, and also you’re simply ignoring what I am telling you.’ So we had conversations like that.” 

Berman informed Fox Information Digital she spoke with Root on three separate events and their conversations ranged between 20-Half-hour. Nothing she informed him made it to print. 

Kiryas Joel school district was the subject of an investigative piece by The New York Times suggesting misappropriation of taxpayer funds.

Kiryas Joel college district was the topic of an investigative piece by The New York Occasions suggesting misappropriation of taxpayer funds. (Courtesy of Joel Petlin)

The article drew deal with the son of the varsity board president who the Occasions reported “earns $178,000 a yr as a ‘trainer aide/E.M.T.,'” portray a picture of impropriety. Whereas Petlin informed the paper that the wage was justified resulting from further duties he performs, Berman attested to Fox Information Digital that the aide “actually works 24/7” and spoke about him to the Occasions reporter. 

“We name him on a regular basis,” Berman mentioned of the varsity aide. “He visits each college each day. Each father or mother calls him once they need assistance. He is a tremendous one who will get issues carried out.” 

Berman alleged that Root was “very upset” at how the faculties separated women and men, which is culturally regular within the Hasidic group and informed him “in the event that they have been Muslims and Muslims additionally do not combine, you would not write about that.” That criticism Root expressed wasn’t talked about within the remaining report. 

“It didn’t make the story because- we have been speaking about that and we have been speaking concerning the faith being taught within the college. After which on the final dialog, he mentioned to me, ‘I discovered a unique monitor to work on. I am not engaged on these tracks anymore.’ I mentioned, OK. And clearly the monitor was a monetary monitor, in order that was our final contact,” Berman mentioned. 

Root didn’t reply to Fox Information’ request for remark. 


Petlin in contrast the Occasions story to the paper working a narrative about him working a pink mild based mostly off of a photograph from a avenue digicam however omitting {that a} police officer was standing within the intersection waving him by as a result of the site visitors mild was damaged. 

“I should not have to clarify my reply, as a result of it ought to be a non-story. However they made a narrative out of one thing that’s not a narrative,” Petlin mentioned. “They’re harping on a number of the battle of curiosity points as a result of they give the impression of being attractive, however they’ve recused themselves once they have been purported to.” 

“There’s clearly an obsession… They actually made a narrative out of nothing that I imagine is simply an try to embarrass the group,” he added. 

Joel Petlin, the superintendent of Kiryas Joel Union Free School District, slammed The New York Times' reporting on his schools during an interview with Fox News Digital. 

Joel Petlin, the superintendent of Kiryas Joel Union Free College District, slammed The New York Occasions’ reporting on his colleges throughout an interview with Fox Information Digital.  (Courtesy of Joel Petlin)

When requested whether or not The New York Occasions was participating in antisemitism with its reporting regardless of having quite a few Jewish staffers on its payroll, each Berman and Petlin view the paper is focusing on essentially the most non secular Jews. 

“Hasidic Jews stick out. Like they stick out when it comes to Jews,” Berman informed Fox Information Digital. “You’ll be able to meet many Jewish individuals and never know they’re Jewish… in order that they bear the brunt of antisemitism. Like Israel bears the brunt of antisemitism. They stand out as Jews… These Jews usually are not a part of their tradition. They’re completely different. They do not like completely different Jews.” 


“None of them are Hasidic. None of them are orthodox. None of them stay within the communities. None of them current the way in which that Orthodox or Hasidic Jews do. The violence that is occurring to distinctively showing Jewish individuals in Brooklyn will not be taking place to the Brians and the Elizas,” Petlin equally expressed about Occasions staffers, particularly referring to reporters Brian Rosenthal and Eliza Shapiro who authored earlier studies about Hasidic colleges.

A spokesperson for The New York Occasions informed Fox Information Digital, “We’re assured within the accuracy of our reporting, which was complete and exhaustive, and stand behind its publication unreservedly. Our reporters collect information with sensitivity and care, and the criticism leveled right here is inaccurate.”

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