New York State Says Relief Resources Doesn't Help Anyone. It Does.

Doctors and Community Back Orthodox Mental Health Agency

Wrongly Labeled: Relief Resources, which was wrongly labeled a do-nothing charity by the Moreland Commission, is one of several not-for-profit groups located in this building in Boro Park.
josh nathan-kazis
Wrongly Labeled: Relief Resources, which was wrongly labeled a do-nothing charity by the Moreland Commission, is one of several not-for-profit groups located in this building in Boro Park.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis and Robert Lewis

Published January 23, 2014, issue of January 31, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

A public corruption panel created by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wrongly labeled an Orthodox Jewish mental health agency as a do-nothing charity, a joint investigation by the Forward and WNYC has found. But the charity does have ties to operatives with deep political influence who have used it for unrelated political ends.

The Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption presented Relief Resources, which it did not identify by name, as “Illustration #1” of how state-funded charities misuse government funds in a December report.

“[The funds] certainly didn’t go to improve the health of anybody in New York City,” Moreland co-chair William Fitzpatrick said in an upstate radio interview soon after news outlets, including WNYC, identified Relief by name. “Who got those dollars?”

Yet mental health experts and Orthodox community members have lauded the group, which some said has helped lift the stigma against mental illness in the Orthodox community.

“They’ve done amazing kinds of work in terms of community education in a way that I really think has really changed perspectives [in] the Orthodox Jewish community,” said David Pelcovitz, a clinical psychologist and a professor at Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education & Administration. Pelcovitz is also a member of Relief’s medical advisory board. “They’ve really made a difference in terms of meeting the mental health needs of what had been a previously underserved community,” he said.

Moreland investigators spent 25 days in 2013 spying on Relief’s offices in Brooklyn’s Boro Park. They set up a camera outside Relief’s front door, keeping track of how many people came and went. They dispatched undercover operatives to see what was going on inside, and called the group’s hotline pretending to be patients. In their report, commission investigators wrote that their probe had raised “significant questions” about the group’s use of state money.

The Moreland Commission’s report stated that Relief had received much of its money through earmarks sponsored by lawmakers, not through competitively bid contracts, and noted that it employed a high-powered lobbying firm. The camera outside “showed little foot traffic to the building,” commissioners wrote, and the investigator who went inside found only one employee. The report also criticized the quality of service that investigators received on Relief’s mental health services referral phone line.

Fitzpatrick went further in his radio interview with WCNY, an upstate public radio station, on December 9, alleging that Relief had not helped any New Yorkers. His office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for the Moreland Commission declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.


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!
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • 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.