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!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • 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.