(JTA) — It wasn’t the yeshiva tuition bills that drove William Rapfogel to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.
On top of the $400,000-plus salary the agency was paying its disgraced CEO, the charity was also covering day school tuition for his three sons.
Yeshiva tuition is frequently cited as the single-greatest financial burden observant Jewish families face. In recent years, a movement of more affordable schools, like Bergen County’s Yeshivat He’Atid and Westchester County’s Westchester Torah Academy, has sprung up in response to the so-called “tuition crisis” and groups like the Orthodox Union have stepped up efforts to get the government to cover the secular part of the education at private schools.
But that wasn’t something Rapfogel or his wife, Judy — New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s chief of staff — had to worry about. The New York Post’s Page Six reported earlier this week that Rapfogel’s contract included tuition for his kids. A Met Council employee familiar with the matter confirmed to JTA that Rapfogel received tuition reimbursements but declined to specify whether the organization covered the full bill or just a percentage of it. The employee noted that it is “not uncommon in certain charitable religious organizations for that to be negotiated” as part of a CEO’s compensation.
Assuming all three Rapfogel boys (the youngest is now in college) did 12 years of yeshiva, the family could easily have racked up more than $500,000 on Met Council’s tab. That’s enough to pay for almost 90,000 meals at Masbia, the network of kosher food kitchens Met Council supports.