Orthodox Jewish Groups Exploit E-Rate Library Subsidy Program

Internet Cafes Get Cash. But What Makes Them Libraries?

Ariel Jankelowitz

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published February 05, 2013, issue of February 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 6 of 8)

Yet visits to the ultra-Orthodox collegial METRO members raised questions about whether the subsidies some were receiving were proportional to the scale of their operations.

According to E-Rate expert Dan Riordan, the $137,000 paid out in subsidies to Kollel L’Horauh represents an extraordinary sum to spend on eligible services for a room with 10 computers.

Doing back-of-the-envelope calculations, Riordan, who is president of On-Tech Consulting, a New Jersey-based consulting firm that works with schools and libraries on E-Rate applications, said that the most he could imagine spending on such a setup would be $45,000. Even that would represent a “ridiculous over-configuration,” Riordan said. A more appropriate amount would be $11,500, based on what he understood of Kollel L’Horauh’s size.

“I don’t see how you get it to six figures,” Riordan said.

When asked about the size of the subsidy Kollel L’Houra had received, Schwartz noted that electronic equipment is expensive, and that the organization has plans to grow. “You can’t imagine how much the servers cost,” Schwartz said. “We’re going to expand…. Now we have 14 computers. We’re going to have much more.” Kollel L’Horauh isn’t the only METRO collegial member library in Brooklyn with high allocations from E-Rate and apparently little to show for it.

The Levi Yitzchok Lubavitch Resource Center is a small library in a basement in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, just across Kingston Avenue from 770 Eastern Parkway, the spiritual locus of the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidic community. A collegial METRO member, the library received $122,000 in E-Rate subsidized equipment and services in 2011 and 2012.

When the Forward visited, the only electronic equipment visible was a single computer at the library’s checkout desk. Libraries that receive E-Rate subsidies can’t get reimbursed for desktop or laptop computers, or for library materials like books. Repeated attempts to reach Shlomo Friedman, the contact person listed on the library’s E-Rate filings, were unsuccessful.

While METRO is responsible for certifying to New York State that New York City institutions are libraries, it’s up to USAC, the organization that runs E-Rate under FCC supervision, to determine how much money to commit to each library.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.