Who sent letters to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asking him to go easy on William E. Rapfogel, the Modern Orthodox former head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty who stole at least $9 million from the UJA-Federation's New York City area anti-poverty organization, causing the nonprofit to eventually collapse? Who wanted Slick Willie to get a get out of jail free card? Take a look.
Above: William E. Rapfogel's perp walk
Who sent letters to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asking him to go easy on William E. Rapfogel, the Modern Orthodox former head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty who stole at least $9 million from the UJA-Federation's New York City area anti-poverty organization, causing the nonprofit to eventually collapse?
Almost anyone of any importance in the New York Jewish community, including 19 rabbis, as City and State New York reported today:
…The letters credited Rapfogel for acts of kindness that he was paid $410,000-a-year to do at Met Council, and for his devotion to his kids, one of whom got $350,000 of Rapfogel’s criminal booty to buy a house. Many of the letters praised Rapfogel’s “integrity,” paying only passing reference to his crimes. Even if the letters had no impact on the handling of the case, they offer a window into a circle of wink- and-nod philanthropic connections starkly similar to the political culture long occupied by Rapfogel and his wife Judy, who has been Silver’s chief of staff since he arrived in the assembly in 1977.
Three of the letters were written by men who have made the Jewish Daily Forward’s list of the 50 most powerful Jews in America in recent years—Julius Berman, the chair of the Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union’s Kosher Division, and Shmuel Lefkowitz, the chief lobbyist for Agudath Israel of America. Lefkowitz, who personally appealed to Schneiderman on the basis of their own long-term relationship, explained Rapfogel’s misdeeds by writing: “We are all only human.”
Genack, the most influential certifier of kosher food in the country, has a track record of questionable ethic endorsements. Years after a 2008 massive federal raid on the largest supplier of kosher meats led to prosecutions of plant supervisors and illegal immigrant workers, Genack did an op-ed that blasted the 27-year jail term for the CEO and co-owner of the plant, Sholom Rubashkin, a member of a prominent [Chabad hasidic] Orthodox family. Genack said the fraud case “sullied our justice system” and was “grossly overzealous.” Earlier, he’d called the Rubashkins “good people,” despite the evidence of their use of hundreds of illegal workers, including many children allegedly exposed to chemical dangers at the plant.…
This rally list for Rapfogel plants one overriding and troubling question: who really stands up for the Jewish poor?
City and State also notes that many of the letter writes have close ties to Modern Orthodox now-arrested former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, himself now indicted for a separate corruption scam allegedly involving millions in kickbacks and bribes.
Here's a partial (!) list of these Jewish leaders who pleaded to get Slick Willie Rapfogel, who stole millions from poor and destitute Jewish New Yorkers, an easy ride. Many of them have been enmeshed in their own scandals and have performed very poorly during them:
• Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher (the Orthodox Union)
• Raphael Butler, a former president of the OU
• Steven Weil, senior managing director of the OU
• Rabbi Haskell Lookstein of the Modern Orthodox Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan. He's also a Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty board member
• The Munkatcher Rebbe Rabbi Moishe Rabinovich
• Satmar Rabbi David Niederman, executive director of the United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn
• Orthodox New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind
• Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz, the chief lobbyist for the haredi umbrella organization Agudath Israel of America
• Ruth Lichtenstein, publisher of the haredi newspaper Hamodia
• Malcolm Hoenlein, the Modern Orthodox executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
• Richard Stone, ex-chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
• Howard Friedman, the president of AIPAC
• Julius Berman, the Modern Orthodox chair of the Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference)
• Michael Miller, the Modern Orthodox executive vice president and CEO of the New York Jewish Community Relations Council
• Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, president of the New York Board of Rabbis
• City University of New York trustee Jeff Wiesenfeld
• Developer Bruce Ratner
Rapfogel is serving a 3 1/3 to 10 year sentence in state prison.
[Hat Tip: dannyb of Harlem.]