Middletown, NY - Times Herald Record Retracts Letter To The Editor Charging Chasidim With Statutory Rape, Welfare Fraud And Questionable Marriage Practices
Middletown, NY - A Hudson Valley newspaper has apologized for running a letter to the editor decrying the continued growth of the Chasidic population in the Hudson Valley, saying that the letter contained inflammatory speech.
The letter, titled “Hasidic community growth detrimental” appeared Wednesday on recordonline.com, the Times Herald Record’s website. Written by Kate Payne of White Lake, the letter warned that the growth of Kiryas Joel is a precursor to similar expansion throughout Sullivan and Orange counties.
In her letter, Payne noted that Bloomingburg is proof that Chasidic growth will not be confined exclusively to Kiryas Joel.
“These subsets of Hasidim are popping up all along our beautiful counties without regard to the obvious decimation of our communal lands. The Stevensville Hotel, Day Top, it just never ends what property they will accumulate to their end, which is, of course, tax exempt.”
Payne also scoffed at the notion that Chasidim need more land to accommodate their intentionally large families, whose size is intended to replace those murdered in the Holocaust, and dismissed claims that there is virtually no teenage pregnancy in Kiryas Joel.
“I don’t know how to phrase this properly, but if they marry off teenagers to propagate their population, duh, they don’t have unwanted/unplanned pregnancies.”
Further throwing barbs at Chasidic customs, Payne had harsh words about the age at which Chasidic women begin bearing children.
“Their teenage girls get married to further enhance their ‘inevitable growth.’ In my lifetime, it would have been considered statutory rape.”
Payne further blasted the Chasidic custom of marrying within families, saying that the practice only breeds “mentally deficient children” thereby creating a greater need for taxpayer funded schools for special needs children and bemoaned a potential plan to create 30,000 square feet of Chasidic housing in White Lake, saying it was too large for the small community.
Taking aim at the high incidence of welfare, Medicaid and food stamps within the Chasidic community, Payne called Chasidic marriages into question.
“I have recently learned that since their marriages are not recognized by New York state and occur within their strict community, they have legal rights to welfare and Medicaid and food stamps as each family is considered with an ‘unwed’ mother, of teenage years to begin having children throughout child-bearing years, into the thirties. Welfare fraud, to say the least, is a serious situation in this area. They’re killing us!”
The Times Herald Record issued a formal apology on its website at 12:17 this afternoon, approximately 20 hours after Payne’s letter was first posted.
Barry Lewis, executive editor of the Times Herald Record, acknowledged that the letter should not have appeared on the paper’s website, which regularly screens letters to the editor for grammar, spelling, length and content.
“It was a letter that really should not have been posted which is why we took it down,” Lewis told VIN News. “It was inadvertently put on when it should not have been.”
Ari Felberman, government relations coordinator for Kiryas Joel, praised the Record for removing Payne’s letter.
“It shows responsibility on their part and I hope that now that they see that there are those who will use their publication to stir up hatred, they will be more diligent in the future and vet letters that come in, not after the fact, but before the fact,” said Felberman.
Yossi Gestetner, Co-Founder of OJPAC, a News Commentator and PR service provider in the Orthodox Jewish Community who alerted the Record about the rousing letter, said that the letter was, surprisingly, on the Record’s website for more than eight hours and its content is correctly described in the apology as “inflammatory speech.”
Going forward, the newspaper should implement better editorial standards for in house and submitted content alike., Gestetner said.
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