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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Areivim Continued

The issue of Areivim has really taken center stage on Rabbi Horowitz's blog (here too, but I think this will be my last word on the subject) and I think that those of us who care about yashrut, integrity, fiscal accountability and transparency, and about the mitzvah of tzedakah which not wanting to see it degraded owe a debt of gratitude for putting some leg work to investigate the Kol Yisrael Areivim organization.

In continued semi-literate response from Mr. Bochner, an elusive name behind KYA, names of "bored members" are finally named. Rabbi Horowitz has taken the time to contact some of the named Board Members and reports (see the comments) that at least one member claims not to be involved with this organization. In the meantime, the endorsements from the Agudah, NCYI, and the OU have been pulled from the website, although Mr. Bocher continues to name these organizations in his "answers" regarding the organization, its funding, and its structure.

I hope that those who have been falsely named as supporters or Board Members do not allow this issue to die quietly. Such would be an injustice to the Orthodox community as a whole, and the Yeshiva and Chassidish communities in particular, who are being sold a bill of goods as this program is promoted. It is also insulting when people, including leadership, say that the constituency wouldn't buy life insurance anyways. If you have a platform, you have an opportunity to educate. Don't waste it!

The system of endorsements by slapping a picture of a gadol is highly disconcerting to me. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the segulah based, gadol picture advertising is relatively new, as is the 8 page glitz and flash advertisements. I much prefer old and unimproved. Also of concern is that people who simply lack rudimentary education trying to start organizations up for which they haven't the foggiest idea what they are doing. It is amazing that people will let them run wild with millions of dollars in the name of tzedakah. We should remember that the mitzvah of tzedakah is an instruction to invest in the community, not throw your hard earned money in the wind and see which direction it floats in! One would think this an obvious point, but I'm afraid it isn't.

It wasn't too long ago that I reported on the news story of Rav Shteiman's home being robbed of a massive $50,000 of cash alone. The theft was an inside job and should have been prevented through some simple internal control measures. If this could happen, what would make anyone think that the same circle of people has the ability to run an unregulated "life insurance" company?


DAG said...

I call the clueless Rabbis running multi-Million dollar orgs with no background and no oversight "Divine Right Directors"

Waste not want not said...

Assuming that most thinking people will eventuially read this site and Rabbi H's (and others), the program will be finished in due time.

Now it is time to move on to the bigger picture - Kupar Hair (no, it is not about human-hair Indian sheitels), Vaad Harabonim, Oorah and 1-877-Kars-4-Kids (1-877-Kars-4-kids, 1-877-Kars-4-kids donate yopur car today). Maybe an analsysis of their 990s by someone who knows how to do that would be eqaully enightening.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, when you say "semi-literate correspondence", you mean that RYH is literate and Bochner is not, correct?

Bklynmom said...

I was walking on Coney Island Ave one day, in the heart of frum Flatbush, Brooklyn one day and happened to glance at a door, one of those scratched, shabby looking doors that lead to an apartment or office above a store. On one mailbox, there were names of at least five different tzedakah-sounding organizations. Across the street, trhere was another door with the name of a local car service and two other tzedaka-sounding organizations. Now, I know things are not always what they seem, but that looks awfully suspicious.
And I would also love it if someone were to look into Oorah and their "practices." We somehow got on their mailing list and get tons of glossy brochures promising all sorts of prizes for the "chinese auctions" that only exist in cyberspace. BTW wouln't that just be called a raffle? More importantly, their printing and mailing costs must be astronomical, and the local yeshivas they place children into educate them for free or very little. Is that the best way for the community and the struggling schools to spend their money?
Looking at it another way, is it worth it to spend community's money to put non-religious kids in yeshivas for free and drive the already-religious families to pull their kids out because they can't afford yeshiva education?

JS said...

Maybe I'm being naive, but why not just call the police to investigate at this point? Why all the silly games asking for details this guy is obviously making up as he goes?

tesyaa said...

Blynmom is right about Oorah. When I first heard about Oorah I naively thought they raised money to pay yeshiva tuition for nonobservant children. Only later did I realize that they raise money for "outreach" (and they have high overhead), but they do not pay tuition and instead convince well meaning yeshivas to take the kids basically for free.

Orthonomics said...

Anonymous-I have reworded to clarify the point. Rabbi Horowitz is literate. If Mr. Bochner handed in a paper like that to me, I'd probably hand back a pink slip.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who wishes to help yesomim and almonos should give their money to Yad Eliezer. They are the largest tzedoko organization in E"Y and probably the most honest and straightforward.
No scam ads, no paid officers in the US.
I've given them $1000s and will continue to do so. In their site you can choose which program to give to, including job training, baby formula, yesomim, etc.

JS said...

I've given to Yad Eliezer. I also give to Hazon Yeshaya. Both seem on the up and up.

I remember hearing a story from a friend whose relative gave faithfully every year to a tzedaka in Israel that sent him a pamphlet. After many year of annual giving, he decided to visit the charity during his trip to Israel. When he got to the street, there was no such address.

Anonymous said...

The saddest thing about this is that the poorest of the poor are the ones being ripped off. The better off folks are usually smart enough to avoid such scams, or at least only "contribute" relatively small amounts.


Anonymous said...

Was he sure he had the right town? ;)

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's suspicious having 5 organizations at one address. One office is probably handling 5 accounts. That saves money.

megapixel said...

orthonomics, I realize you are against Areivim as an insurance program, because it wont work.

But what about thinking of Areivim as a Tzedaka org. that is set up in advance of tragedy, so that if they are needed, dont need to fundraise - they already have the source for the money.

when I think of it that way, I dont see why you are so dead set against it.
Are they pushing this as an alternative to real life insurance?
I dont think so.

Orthonomics said...

I would have absolutely no objection to setting up a large fund for living expenses for almanot in advance of an actual death. This fund isn't set up for that. For one, you have to be a memeber. Secondly, funds are collected upon a death through a pre-registered credit card.

If you go back to the other posts and see the comments of Mr. Bochner you will hopefully understand my concern about this program being pushed as an alternative to life insurance. Sure Mr. Bochner goes on record to say people should get life insurance. But, then he goes on to state that life insurance is too expensive, people won't buy it, etc, etc.

Those who have the communal ear have a tremendous opportunity to promote healthy personal finance and it would be lovely to see help supplementing real life insurance, rather than setting up a poorly envisioned plan, even if the founders think it brilliant.