Met Council board member Abraham Biderman, who is a top haredi lay leader in Agudath Israel of America, is likely to be the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty's new board chairman and his candidate to replace David Frankel the CEO brought in to clean up the anti-poverty agency after widespread embezzlement came to light last year is a Chabad rabbi. Frankel was allegedly forced out by haredim, likely with the help of Biderman and other board members.
The Forward reports:
…Met Council board member Abraham Biderman is being considered to succeed Steven Price as president of the organization, according to three sources close to the Met Council. Biderman, who is ultra-Orthodox, is a managing director of the investment firm Eagle Advisers and also serves on the boards of the ultra-Orthodox umbrella organization Agudath Israel of America and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. Biderman did not respond to an inquiry from the Forward.
A source close to the Met Council said that that Biderman was backing [Chabad RAbbi Moshe] Wiener’s bid for the top job at the organization. Appointing the men to the group’s top lay and staff positions would constitute a major change for the charity.
“The Met Council, I think, had a reputation as being a secular Jewish charity,” said Lewis Fidler, a former member of the New York City Council who has worked closely with the organization. He characterized the Met Council as having “embrac[ed] somewhat Orthodox groups — the [Jewish Community Councils] and [the Councils of Jewish Organizations] — in a patrician-like manner,” referring to the local agencies in the Met Council’s network that provide social services in return for funding and operational support.…
Weiner is the head of a local Jewish Community Council.
Almost all of the JCCs are haredi-controlled, and they fought with outgoing Met Council CEO David Frankel – a man with extensive Wall Street experience who also served as commissioner of New York City’s Department of Finance.
Frankel was brought in last September to replace fired CEO William E. Rapfogel – a leading member of the city's Modern Orthodox community – who led a 20 year at least $9 million embezzlement scheme with co-conspirators that included his predecessor as CEO, haredi Rabbi David Cohen, the Met Council's former CFO Herbert Friedman, and the Met Council's Breslov hasidic insurance broker Joseph "Yossi" Ross – essentially meaning that a gang made up almost exclusively of Orthodox Jews looted the city's secular Jewish anti-poverty charity.
All four men have pleaded guilty to felony charges. Rapfogel is already in prison.
Some of these haredi-controlled JCCs have been accused by a small number of clients and community members of misusing some of the government monies they received through the Met Council, and have been accused of failing to help needy Jews who are not members of their particular religious community in the same way they help their own poor – who allegedly get much more assistance.
But these JCC heads reportedly complained about stricter financial oversight instituted by Frankel and forced him out – with the Met Council's board's acquiescence.
That board was sharply criticized by government funders for providing lax (or in some cases, no) oversight during Rapfogel's embezzlement.
Now it appears ready to hand over control of the city's only Jewish anti-poverty agency to handpicked candidates of haredi power brokers – including Biderman, who was a senior lay leader at Agudah during the time the haredi umbrella group alleged covered up child sex abuse cases and negotiated an illegal deal with then-Brooklyn DA Charles J. Hynes to allow its rabbis to vet cases of alleged child sex abuse and decide if those cases should be reported to police or the DA.
This bodes poorly for the city's secular and non-Orthodox Jewish poor – except for Russian immigrants, who have their own organizations under the Met Council.
It is also an odd decision to make because haredim donate almost no money to the Jewish Federation and its constituent charities – including the Met Council.