‘Defamatory’ NYT must stop attacking Hasidic community, say Orthodox Jewish leaders

Former Trump advisor urges the New York Times to stop “derisive, offensive” depiction of Orthodox Jewish life as bleak and “valueless.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Orthodox Jewish organizations and community leaders are speaking out after a recent New York Times article charged that Hasidic children are the victims of a subpar educational system, a theme that’s been repeatedly pushed by the outlet in the last few months.

Critics slammed the report for its grim description of Orthodox Jewish life, along with photographs that portray the community’s schools as bleak and depressing, charging that the article is ill-timed considering an unprecedented uptick in antisemitic attacks across the U.S. and in New York City.

“This marks nearly a dozen articles spewed by the Times in the past three months – all defaming and misrepresenting our community,” said Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization Agudath Israel in a press statement on Tuesday.

The group said that the Times has “consistently shunned any narrative that does not portray the Orthodox community as backward, societal leeches, controlled and persecuted by their own religion.”

They noted that the photographs of children accompanying the article had “sullen faces” and appeared to be chosen to “further this narrative.”

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“At a time of rising, alarming antisemitism, from celebrity statements to thuggish attacks in the streets, the New York Times is investing significant resources to contribute to an atmosphere of hate against those most identifiably Jewish,” the statement continued.

“Make no mistake, our fears are real. We call upon good people of all persuasions to register their outrage and repudiation to the New York Times’ targeted smear campaign against Orthodox Jews.

The Times article, titled Why Some Hasidic Children Can’t Leave Failing Schools, featured the personal story of a divorced woman who was not allowed to withdraw her son from a particular Orthodox school and enroll him in a different educational institution that has a greater emphasis on secular studies.

The woman had signed a divorce agreement agreeing that her children would receive a religiously-focused education in line with her family’s Hasidic stream, but the Times presented this caveat as a violation of the mother and child’s rights.

Jason Greenblatt, a former envoy to the Middle East for the Trump administration, wrote on his Twitter account that the Times article was an “attack.”

The Times “seeks to tear down religious communities” and intentionally ignores the Hasidic community’s “highly positive aspects,” Greenblatt wrote.

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He added that the description of Orthodox Jewry was “derisive” and “offensive,” and urged the Times to stop “painting [the] Hasidic” community as “backwards” and “valueless.”