N.Y. State Agency Refuses Welfare Allowance Request for Purchase of Kosher Food

A request for an increased allowance in welfare aid by an Orthodox Jewish woman to buy kosher food was rejected by the New York State Department of Social Services, the lawyer who represented the plaintiff reported. The attorney, Harvey Schwartz, is chairman of the social service committee of the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA), which represented the woman in the action. COLPA is an Orthodox organization formed to protect the rights of Orthodox Jews in matters of law.

The woman, whose name is being withheld, applied for the increase to her city caseworker, arguing that the cost of such foods, particularly for meats and fowl, was higher than that of non-kosher foods. The caseworker rejected the request. The woman was referred by community workers to COLPA which applied for a “fair hearing” — the equivalent of an appeal — to the state agency. The hearing was held here last July 5 and the ruling was handed down last week, Mr. Schwartz said.

The attorney reported that, in the ruling, the state found that it was a fact that kosher food, particularly in the meat and fowl category, was more expensive than non-kosher food and that the present city welfare food allowance was not adequate to purchase kosher food. The denial, the lawyer said, was based on grounds there is no state law or state social services department ruling which authorizes an allowance supplementing the regular food grant for religious purposes. He said that COLPA would probably appeal the ruling to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York. He also reported that he had been informed by the United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg. Brooklyn, a central agency for Orthodox Jewish groups in that area, that a “fair hearing” would be held tomorrow by the state agency on the same request from another Orthodox Jewish woman.

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