I’ll Call These Folks Welfare Queens

I’ve had a fair amount of exposure to various Ultra Orthodox communities, and as a result, I view the fact that the Heredim communities in Brooklyn have the one of the highest percentages of Section 8 recipients in the nation is as a result of a sophisticated attempt by leaders in this community to game the welfare system.

I call them Schnorrers (שנאָרער).

What is going on here is that people are spending their days studying instead of working to support their families.

As noted in Perkei Avot (Literally Wisdom of the Fathers), “Do not make the Torah into a crown with which to aggrandize yourself or a spade with which to dig.”


New York City’s 123,000 vouchers make this the largest Section 8 voucher program in the country. Reluctant landlords and rising rents are making vouchers nearly impossible to use in many areas of the city. Tenants, especially larger families, are often relegated to the edges of Brooklyn and the Bronx. That’s why this cluster of Hasidic households stands out.

The neighborhood is home to one of the highest concentrations of Section 8 housing vouchers in the city, according to federal data analyzed by WNYC and the Daily News. In several of its census tracts, Section 8 tenants compose more than 30% of residents, a level reached only in scattered pockets of the Bronx.

The difference: In Brooklyn, the Section 8 tenants live smack in the middle of one of the city’s hottest real estate market.

The juxtaposition happened over years, not overnight. Leaders leveraged longstanding political connections to win favorable zoning changes. Local developers bought and built to meet the need. Residents organized to get in line for rental subsidies. Block by block, the community created a de facto free market, affordable housing plan.


A sliver of the community makes money in diamonds, real estate and trading. But many men favor religious study over work, and most women stay at home, so money can be tight. Those who work are often relegated to low-wage jobs due to a lack of secular education.

Here is a news flash: Despite sporting similar facial hair, Orthodox Jews are not the Amish.

Jews are required to engage the rest of the world and to learn about it.

What we have here here is parents deliberately giving their children a 2nd rate education and creating multi-generational poverty.

My nephews and niece are frum (Orthodox), and their mom and pop are principals at the local religious school, and they have, or are studying for, real careers like systems engineer, lawyer, and therapist.

One can be learned in Torah and make their way in the world, and parents, regardless of religious affiliation, have an obligation to prepare their children to function as self-supporting adults.

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