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Ultra-Orthodox Community in New Jersey Grapples With Welfare-fraud Charges

Tuesday, July 04, 2017
Haaretz article by Taly Krupkin quoting Ezra Friedlander's op-ed
The community's contributions

While community leaders are calling for reflection, others have suggested that the need for change might not be in the community, but in public policy.

In an op-ed in The Yeshiva Times, Ezra Friedlander, a Washington lobbyist and chief executive of the PR firm the Friedlander Group, has argued for public policy that recognizes the contributions of the Haredi community. He says the community is caught between the need for financial assistance and restrictions on who is entitled.
Friedlander told Haaretz that many Orthodox families are struggling with the tuition of private Orthodox schools. For that community, secular public schools are out of the question, so families have to cover tuition costs that rise with each child.

"A small family pays $10,000 to $15,000 a year for their children's enrollment in a yeshiva, while a bigger family might pay $50,000 to $70,000 a year .... You start your years in a deficit," he says.

Friedlander argues that while struggling with private tuition costs, the Haredi community is also a "net contributor," paying property taxes, creating community networks that contribute to society, and most importantly, not taking up funds or spaces in local public schools. He says public policy should thus consider letting families in higher tax brackets be eligible for social programs.

"We contribute to society in so many different ways," Friedlander says. "It starts with recognizing the vast humanitarian networks that we provide not only to our community, but to all citizens of the community we live in. To try reach out to our community, to hold our hand and to work with us so that we can become even more productive citizens of this great country."

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