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!
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • 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.