Skip To Content

Undeserved Stigma

Your June 29 editorial “The Undeserving Poor?” argued that poverty in the Orthodox community is a “choice.” The premise is that Hasidic Jews refuse to go to work and earn an honest living.

I beg to differ. I oversee a school where several hundred men and women are trained annually as junior accountants and about 100 others graduate as fully accredited accountants with a BA eligible to become CPAs.

Our program is hardly unique. There’s TTI, Machon L’Parnassah, Touro College and various other programs run by Orthodox groups and focused on training Orthodox men and women in the pursuit of an advanced degree leading to a career. Your editorial claims that “skill based teaching” has disappeared in our community. This is simply not true.

Furthermore, the vast majority of men in the New York Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox community are actively employed or seeking employment. Walk the streets of Manhattan, and you will find Hasidic businessmen, accountants, therapists, attorneys, educators and professionals of all types. Like in any community, some are very successful at their vocation while others are struggling.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. Torah learning is the number one priority in our community. Nothing, not even climbing the corporate ladder, will ever change that. But just visit virtually any Orthodox synagogue during the early pre dawn hours or late into the night, and chances are you will find dozens of men — young and old — poring over the ancient scripts. They may be working 9 to 5 in order to support their families, but their commitment to Torah begins well beforehand and ends hours later.

Leon Goldenberg
Board of Trustees, Agudath Israel of America
New York, N.Y.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.