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Report questions New Square yeshiva's $3.3M tech grants given its aversion to Web

Yeshivat Avir Yakov in New Square has reportedly

Yeshivat Avir Yakov in New Square has reportedly received $3.3 million in federal technology grants. (Feb. 17, 2013) Photo Credit: Lili Holzer-Glier

An all-boys yeshiva in New Square accepted more than $3.3 million in federal funds for technology improvements even though the Hasidic community eschews Internet usage, according to an investigation by the Manhattan-based The Jewish Week newspaper.

According to the report, Yeshivat Avir Yakov is one of many fervently Orthodox Jewish schools in the state that tapped the E-Rate program, which subsidizes telecommunications services and infrastructure for schools. In 2011, the program paid out some $30 million to Orthodox Jewish schools.

Yet The Jewish Week notes that last May, fervently Orthodox Jews filled Citi Field and Arthur Ashe stadiums in Queens for a rally about the dangers of the Internet. What's more, Hasidic schools often require parents to sign guarantees that no Web access is available at home before enrolling their children in yeshivas.

Using publicly available data, the newspaper found that although Jewish schools enrolled about 4 percent of New York's primary and secondary students, they received 22 percent of the state's total E-rate allocations in 2011.

The Jewish Week said it did not receive calls for comment from the seven schools named in its story. Newsday could not reach a representative of Yeshivat Avir Yakov for comment Sunday.

Since 1998, Avir Yakov has received more than $3.3 million in such aid, including $817,065 in 2011 and $209,423 in 2012, according to the report. The school's 2012 request asked for items including 65 direct Internet connections for 25 classrooms, 40 computers or other devices, phone service for 96 classrooms and 260 cellphones with data plans.

The newspaper also noted that it has obtained a video of the inside of Avir Yakov from the past two weeks that shows no computers or telephones in the classrooms. The video is not posted on the newspaper's website.

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