The well known joke about the donor who asks for a "nedovo
far mir," [i.e. for himself and not of course for the
Mirrer yeshiva] whose meaning is imbedded within the literal
translation of the Yiddish phrase, causes a bittersweet smile
to cross the lips of many a Torah institution and yeshiva
They could even laugh at the Jerusalem humor, if it weren't
so similar to the daily reality which they feel on their very
flesh. Respectable directors of worthy institutions who, with
great mesiras nefesh, go abroad on fundraising
campaigns, repeatedly encounter skepticism on the part of
potential donors, or worse than that, total disregard of
their appeals. Many donors who in the past were known for
their highly generous support of Torah institutions in Israel
are not making further donations.
Until recently, it was possible to find announcements in the
classified section of Yated Ne'eman or chareidi
newspapers, of "difficult to refuse" offers such as the sale
of a computerized list of the names of thousands of "big"
donors, along with their addresses. It is quite possible that
the heads of legitimate institutions were helped by this
service. However, it is also possible that others sought to
strike it rich from this list without legitimate purpose.
Similar phenomenon are well known among askonim
involved in helping the sick who require costly operations,
or talmidei chachomim in financial distress, or widows
and orphans who lack the minimal means of subsistence.
Precisely because there are many such genuine cases in the
chareidi community, those askonim who had letters of
recommendation from rabbonim discovered the very frustrating
fact that certain people took advantage of the situation, and
developed a method for making "easy money" by forging
recommendation letters. This trend was dealt with by the
founding of a special committee of askonim in Israel
who check the reliability of supplicants.
A similar and very welcome initiative in the area of
donations for Torah institutions in Eretz Yisroel has been
taken by the Yerushalmi askan, R' Shlomo Carmi, who is
preparing a special guide called The Torah World (Olom
HaTorah) which will include reliable information about
Torah institutions in Israel for the benefit of donors
abroad. Its purpose is to prevent the deceit and fraud
perpetrated by all sorts of charlatans. The publication of
the guide will increase the contributions and hopefully
revive the Torah institutions' desperately needed sources of
Rabbi Carmi, the director of the new guide, has many hair-
raising stories to tell. "A while ago," he said "one of the
prominent roshei yeshiva in Jerusalem who, from time
to time, has to go to America to collect money, told me that
he was on a fundraising campaign to the United States.
Although he spent a month-and-a-half there, after all of his
efforts, he collected a tenth of what he had collected in
Rabbi Carmi adds that this is a widespread trend which has
caused many institution directors, roshei yeshiva and
roshei kollel who are collecting money, to suffer.
During recent years, notes Rabbi Carmi, the amount of money
donated to yeshivos and Torah institutions has drastically
decreased. Contrary to popular opinion, the cause is not that
the donors have become impoverished, but rather the serious
undermining of the trust of the donors, who in the past
contributed generously to Torah institutions, but due to many
cases of fraud and deceit now refrain from making
Gone are the days in which a meshulach could knock on
the door of a gvir, and in response to "Who's there?"
reply: "A schnorrer fun Eretz Yisroel" (as an
important meshulach likes to relate).
During the past few years, a large number of cases in which
donors were fooled by charlatans who presented themselves as
representatives of well-known Torah institutions or of
directors of fictitious institutions, were disclosed.
There is a well-known story about a meshulach who
managed to collect a large amount of money from many donors
after he presented himself as the director of a large and
prominent kollel in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.
The money poured into the pocket of the charlatan until the
fraud was disclosed in an incidental manner: One of the
important donors, who contributed thousands of dollars every
month to that kollel, arrived in Eretz Yisroel and
decided to visit the institution which benefited from his
generosity. He was shocked to find that the bogus kollel
was "situated" in the luxurious home which the charlatan
had bought with the money he had collected.
"We were startled to discover the scope of the trend, and
decided to take measures to curb it. With the encouragement
of rabbonim abroad, mainly HaRav Yosef Sitruk the Chief Rabbi
of France and HaRav Gavriel Cohen, the rav of Beverly Hills
in Los Angeles, we decided to publish a special guide which
will include the names of all of the Torah institutions and
their details, and in that manner curb the serious trend,"
Rabbi Shlomo Carmi told the Yated Ne'eman.
The askonim established connections with religious
communities abroad and formed a network of connections with
the rabbis of the communities and the heads of institutions
and organizations in the Diaspora.
The Torah World will be distributed in Jewish
communities throughout the world, and will include reliable
and up-to-date information about Torah institutions. The
guide will include information which will be provided by the
institution, such as the names of the roshei yeshiva
or the directors of the institution, the names of its staff
members, its address, and the number of students enrolled.
Listings in the guide are non-conditional and free of
All of the activities, stresses Rabbi Carmi, will be
supervised by rabbonim. The Madrich Hachareidi (a
special classified directory), which is distributed
throughout Jerusalem and considered very successful, is
currently offering its services to initiators of The Torah
World guide, and will help with its publication.
It is hoped that the distribution of this guide will curb the
prevailing fraudulence and deceit, and offset the current
misgivings donors have about the directors of institutions
who go abroad in order to collect money for the support of
the Torah world in Eretz Yisroel.
No specific publication date has yet been released.