No tuition crisis for Met Council’s Rapfogel

Jewish parents scrambling to keep up with day school tuition bills got another reason this week to hate William Rapfogel, the disgraced former CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. Turns out on top of his $400,000-plus salary and the $400,000 in embezzled funds stashed in his closet, he didn’t have to pay for his three sons to go to yeshiva.

Tuition is frequently cited as the single-greatest financial burden observant Jewish families face. In recent years, a movement of more affordable schools, like Bergen County’s Yeshivat He’Atid and Westchester County’s Westchester Torah Academy — has sprung up in response to the so-called “tuition crisis” and groups like the Orthodox Union have stepped up efforts to get the government to cover the secular part of the education at private schools.


But that wasn’t something Rapfogel or his wife, Judy — New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s chief of staff — had to worry about, even though both were highly skilled at accessing government dollars. The New York Post’s Page Six reported earlier this week that Rapfogel’s contract included tuition for his kids. A Met Council employee familiar with the matter confirmed to JTA that Rapfogel received tuition reimbursements, but declined to specify whether the organization covered the full bill or just a percentage of it. The employee noted that it is “not uncommon in certain charitable religious organizations for that to be negotiated” as part of a CEO’s compensation.

Assuming all three Rapfogel boys (the youngest is now in college) did 12 years of yeshiva, the family could easily have racked up more than $500,000 on Met Council’s tab. That’s enough to pay for almost 90,000 kosher meals at Masbia, the network of kosher food kitchens Met Council supports.

Julie Wiener Julie Wiener is a features writer for JTA. Previously, she was the associate editor of The New York Jewish Week, where she wrote about education, food and assorted other topics along with intermarriage.