Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

16 Tammuz 5759 - June 30, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Sponsored by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Produced and housed by

A New Guide for Torah Institutions Will Prevent Fraud

by N. Katzin

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 director.

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 financial support.

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 previous years."

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 donations.

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 charge.

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.

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.