Thursday, February 24, 2005

Stop giving money to any JNF outside Israel, that way when it goes towards things other than trees it will at least help the Israeli economy


At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is whistleblowing? Why no fingerpointing? Very uncharacteristically mild of you. What did the JNF do to deserve this special treatment? What about Ronald Lauder? Where are your calls for fiscal transparency?

At 5:23 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

The current JNF scandal is not new. Despite decades of trying to reform the JNF, it is clear little has changed.

Money being given for trees is frequently being used for out of control administration costs and to fill the pockets of executives and their families.

Why support any JNF outside Israel? As the articles below demonstrate often as much as three-quarters of your donations NEVER EVEN REACH Israel.

Look at the problems in the JNF-UK. Look at the quality of one of the long-term executives running JNF-Canada.

At least in Israel, it will go to Israeli executives who will more likely spend it at least in Israel.

If you're going to donate money to make JNF directors richer at least give donate it to Israeli JNF directors.

Note to WJC naysayers: This is why you need audits.

1) indication of problems
The Jerusalem Report
November 29, 1990

By Nora Ariel

Fourteen months ago, 4,000 dunams of the Carmel forest went up in smoke. Since then, $ 1 million donated in the United States specifically for reclamation of the ravaged parklands have vanished into thin air.

That's the story according to Uri Marinov, director-general of the Environment Ministry, and Dan Perry, deputy director-general of the Nature Reserves Authority. Both are on the committee of the Carmel Fund, set up in September 1989 to help restore the forest, on the Carmel range near Haifa. Marinov is chairman of the fund.

"This is a story of absolute fraud and deceit by the Jewish National Fund," says Perry.

The Carmel fires shocked Israel. Arson was a near certainty, though the perpetrators were never identified. A telethon was held on Israel Television, and more than 2 million shekels were transferred to the Carmel Fund.

At the same time, Israeli diplomats in the United States were holding forest fundraising events with the assistance of the JNF. Says Perry: "The Israeli missions organized the events and the JNF was supposed to channel the funds to us."

Marinov recounts: "Last October (then ambassador to Washington) Moshe Arad announced that a million dollars had been raised. He said the money would be transferred to Israel soon. But we never received it."

Last week, The Jerusalem Report informed Arad of the claim that the money had never arrived.

"I had no idea," said the former ambassador. "This is the first I've heard of it." Arad also doesn't know how much was transferred to the JNF. "I was just told by our consulates that $ 1 million had been raised," he said.

Apart from some donations given to Israeli consulate staff, says Marinov, "around $ 1 million, earmarked for the Carmel Fund," was given to the JNF in two ways: donations deposited directly into a JNF bank account, and checks made out to the JNF which were given to its staff at fundraising events. Marinov maintains that all the money was subsequently transferred to JNF headquarters in America.

"When I realized the money wasn't coming, I asked Foreign Ministry Director General Reuven Merhav to intervene," Marinov says. "Merhav told me the money had reached the JNF on behalf of the Carmel Fund." Merhav told The Jerusalem Report that the ministry would have been and is still willing to help rectify the situation, but that Marinov had never asked for further assistance.

Marinov has made no inquiries to JNF officials in the States. He has also ruled out legal action, "because the events took place in the United States." Instead, he has tried to trace the money through the JNF's office in Israel.

"I haven't called anyone in America because I don't know who the people there are," he says. "I cannot write to people whom I do not know. Nor is it my responsibility to talk to them."

Had Marinov called the JNF in New York and spoken to the fund's director of communications, Stuart Paskow, he would have learned that "between $ 200,000 and $ 250,000" was transferred from the JNF in New York to the JNF in Israel, by the end of last year. Says Paskow: "We have no idea what distribution deal was made on the Israel end." He claims the amount transferred represented the entire sum collected by the JNF in the United States.

In Jerusalem, Ori Orr, the JNF's director-general, says he and the JNF in the United States "know nothing" about any transfer from the United States earmarked for the Carmel Fund. "The JNF in the United States has no knowledge of how much money came in for the Carmel Fund," alleges Orr, contradicting Paskow. "We never received any money earmarked for the fund."

As for the $ 1 million reportedly raised in America, Orr refers to it as "pledges," and says: "You know how it is with pledges. People offer to make contributions but only about a third ever do. That's what happened with the telethon here."

Ori Orr confirms that "we didn't give the Carmel Fund any money." But he says the JNF "instead gave the fund labor and equipment worth 400,000 shekels. My conscience is clear. The JNF has offered to bear half the costs of the fund's reclamation projects in the Carmel."

"Nonsense," says Perry. "The JNF has given us next to nothing." It has helped with some projects, but has not borne half the costs of the Carmel Fund's overall effort, he says.

As for the million dollars, Perry's theory is that it ended up in JNF coffers. "People in America donated to a specific cause and their money has been lost among other JNF funds. We cannot trace it from here. The JNF must come forth, show us exactly how much money it collected on our behalf and hand it over."

2) More indicators of problems
Giving Wisely When the Need is Great
by Marguerite T. Smith
New York
Dec 1992

Painful tragedies unfold almost every evening on your TV screen: emaciated children in Somalia; families left homeless by hurricanes in Florida and Hawaii or earthquakes in Cairo and Colombia; innocent victims of civil war in Bosnia. And undoubtedly you are mindful of the many needy people whose stories don't make the evening news: for instance, an old woman with Alzheimer's; a young man with AIDS; an inner-city family torn by drugs and gang wars. Like most Americans, you probably want to help these unfortunates but don't know which of the 500 national charities will spend your money most wisely.

On the following pages, you'll find MONEY'S fourth annual ranking of the 100 largest national charities in order of efficiency--the percentage of 1991 income that they spent on programs. (The five most efficient groups, led by Gifts in Kind America, are at right.) As in past years, we relied on data collected by the NonProfit Times (190 Tamarack Circle, Skillman, N.J. 08558), a trade journal. The ranking excludes the United Way, this year racked by a scandal over its former president's $463,000 in salary and benefits, because the parent group doesn't report consolidated data for its 2,100 local chapters.

To enable you to size up the charities better, we divided them into five broad categories--social service, relief and development, health, conservation, and education. The rankings also include a column, at the far right of each table, noting which charities meet the standards of the two leading watchdog groups: the Philanthropic Advisory Service of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB), which is listed first, and the National Charities Information Bureau (NCIB).

If you want to check out a charity that didn't make the top 100, write for these free publications: the CBBB's Give but Give Wisely (4200 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va. 22203) and the NCIB's Wise Giving Guide (19 Union Square West, New York, N.Y. 10003). You might also consult the CBBB's Annual Charity Index ($12.95), which reports the top officer's compensation and benefits at 203 groups--timely information in light of the United Way scandal.

These charities give you the broadest range of choices among our five categories--the 44 organizations listed below do everything from helping the homeless to raising money for the Olympics. In addition, largely because of this diversity, social service charities reported the widest variations among the categories in the percentage of 1991 income that went for good works. At the top, Gifts in Kind America of Alexandria, Va. spent more than its income, while at the other end of the spectrum, Cal Farley's Boys Ranch of Amarillo, Texas barely exceeded 35%. The category's overall average is 79%. (Figures are not available for the last five charities on the list because the groups don't consolidate expenses for their affiliates.)

Don't be misled by such extreme figures. Gifts in Kind America, which distributes equipment and clothing donated by corporations to other nonprofit agencies, had some items left over from 1990 and handed them out in 1991. That propelled its efficiency to 100.9%. There's a similarly legitimate explanation of why Cal Farley's spent only 35.4% of its income on programs. The organization runs a southwestern version of Boys Town and an affiliate, Girlstown, U.S.A. A spokesman says the figure was low because Cal Farley's is in the midst of a six-year construction program and spent $6.4 million in 1991 to enlarge and renovate homes for boys at its 10,000-acre Amarillo ranch.

The lesson: If a favorite charity's figures don't make sense, call the organization for an explanation. You may find the reason acceptable. "The group might be putting aside money to create an investment fund, for example, so they won't have to do so much fund raising in future years," says Bennett Weiner, vice president of the CBBB. Or the organization may have no choice but to spend a lot to attract contributions. A case in point: According to a spokesman, Disabled American Veterans, of Cincinnati, had to shell out a striking 29.3% of income to raise money in 1991 because its individual donations average only $6.25.

Similarly, if a group that interests you doesn't meet all the standards of the CBBB and NCIB--14% of the social service charities at left don't--ask the charity why.
Few charities have gone mainstream faster than those that seek to protect the environment. In 1987, environmental groups raised $1.6 billion. Last year, they Took in $2.5 billion. Another sign of greener times: More than 100 companies, from Citibank to Nike, now let Earth Share, a federation of 40 environmental charities, canvass employees at work--a privilege formerly extended only to the United Way. Explains Citibank spokesman Jack Morris: "Some employees felt the United Way was too limited in the groups it supported."

Unfortunately, however, four of the nine groups on our list don't meet the standards of at least one of the two major watchdogs. Greenpeace U.S.A., an activist group that is known primarily for protecting the whales and for opposing nuclear power, is not approved by the CBBB because it has not provided financial statements.

A Greenpeace official told MONEY that the accounting firm Price Waterhouse has completed an audit and her group will submit the results shortly. The World Wildlife Fund doesn't meet the NCIB rule that a paid staff member cannot be the chairman of the group's board. The Jewish National Fund, best known for having planted 200 million trees in Israel since 1901, fails six of 23 CBBB standards. For example, JNF produces its financial reports every two years instead of annually. "We have 500 projects in Israel, and it's not cost-effective to gather complete information every year," says spokesman Stuart Paskow. The National Audubon Society flunked a CBBB marketing standard by neglecting to indicate that the bird stamps enclosed in a mailing were free. The group has stopped using the material.

3) Last big financial scandal
News report calls into question Jewish National Fund finances
by Diego Ribadeneira, Globe Staff
September 28, 1996
The Boston Globe

The Jewish National Fund has failed to account for millions of dollars it raises to support land projects in Israel, according to the first of three articles that appeared Thursday in several Jewish newspapers across the United States.

In addition, the Jewish National Fund spent more than half its annual budget last year on administration, salaries and benefits, with less than half the money it raised allocated to Israeli programs, according to the articles by Boston-based freelance journalist Yosef I. Abramowitz.

The first article appeared in the Jewish Advocate, a Boston weekly.

A three-month investigation by Abramowitz, editor of an on-line magazine on the Worldwide Web called, discloses "a picture of a top-heavy organization that ousts board members who seek accountability, hides behind its noble mission while fudging financial records . . . and does not meet the Better Business Bureau's accountability standards for charitable organizations."

Mark Cohen, a spokesman for the New York-based organization, denied Abramowitz's allegations. Cohen said an independent audit of the agency, expected to be released in a few days, will address questions about the agency's finances.

Cohen said he did not know the contents of the audit, but he did not dispute the amount of money Abramowitz said the Jewish National Fund spent on salaries and administrative costs.

Cohen also sent computer messages to editors of several Jewish newspapers scheduled to publish Abramowitz's articles, asking them not to print the stories because they were "fiction."

"We believe its conclusions and meanness of spirit are wholly unjustified and needlessly damaging," Cohen said in the message. A copy of the message was obtained by the Globe.

Earlier this month, Milton S. Shapiro, president of the Jewish National Fund, sent a note, also obtained by the Globe, to the agency's board of directors, regional presidents and employees asking them not to talk to Abramowitz.

The Jewish National Fund, launched in 1901, helped develop Israel's infrastructure by providing money for land, forestry and irrigation projects. In the past 60 years, the agency has helped plant more than 200 million trees in Israel.

Senior source claims report will clear JNF
by David Twersky
MetroWest Jewish News
October 10, 1996

According to a senior source familiar with the work of the auditors and the panel appointed to review Jewish National Fund of America operations, the long-awaited report based on the audit of the finances of JNF will clear the organization of charges that it cannot account for millions of dollars of the funds it raises.

At the same time, the report will recommend changes in the organization's accounting procedures.

Regarding allegations that funds are mysteriously routed to Latin America, the source told the Metro West Jewish News that JNF pays an estimated $2.5 million annually into a KKL (Keren Kayemeth Leisrael, as JNF is known is Israel) account in Bank Leumi in New York. Most of those funds are then used to pay out dividends to beneficiaries of deferred gifts, or to repay designated beneficiaries of Keren Dorot, a planned-giving fund. There are between 2,500 and 3,000 participants in such plans, the senior source said, some in Latin America. The account is also used to finance the cost of KKL emissaries in Latin America and in this country.

"We paid two Shlihim in Latin America," the source said. "We received instructions from KKL to pay and did so." KKL credits JNF of America for the monies transferred to the New York KKL account as funds raised for general administrative purposes. JNF funds sent to Israel are either general administration or special projects - JNF's form of designated giving that allows donors of $100,000 or more to target their donation. The $2.5 million deposited in this New York KKL account, but credited as a contribution to Israel, makes up the difference between the $12.5 million JNF of America has reported it sent to Israel and the $10 million figure KKL officials say they received in Israel; and it also explains the Latin America issue, said the source. This procedure has passed the auditors' muster, according to the source.

The audit by Deloitte & Touche will clear JNF of the charges raised by journalist Yosef Abramowitz. "There are no missing millions," the senior source said. "We can account for the $24 million raised."

But the source admitted that "There is a question about allocation of expenses."

There is, however, no violation of the law, the source insisted.

Nor is JNF in violation of the laws governing relations between domestic and foreign charities, the source said. "Relations between KKL and JNF are clear." The law requires that KKL's goals be in concert with JNF's and that JNF monitor the use of its funds. JNF has a full-time representative in Jerusalem overseeing the use of JNF funds by KKL.

The complaint from JNF activists in Houston, said the source, is that "we haven't spelled out how our money is spent. Now we know we'll need to make changes in procedure."

One change that the senior source said is in the works awards new representation on the national board to JNF's two dozen regional units, complementing the representation already given national Zionist groups.

JNF will also "need better accounting procedures," said the senior source. Whatever the panel report recommends will be adopted, the source predicted. "We will follow their recommendations."

JNF won't clarify alleged financial discrepancies
by Yosef I. Abramowitz
MetroWest Jewish News
October 10, 1996

One of the Jewish community's best known and loved charities, the Jewish National Fund of America, has been unwilling to account for millions of allegedly missing dollars. Statements by JNF representatives on what JNF transfers to Israel, matfhed against JNF's IRS filings and other budget papers, reveal possible discrepancies of several million dollars.

In response to questions, JNF officials have instituted a news blackout, broken only by short faxes by director of communications Mark Cohen, although JNF has assigned an independent committee to issue a report on the group's finances. (Cohen also sent an e-mail massage to editors asking them not to print this article, calling it "fiction" and accusing the writer of being "blatantly biased.") A Sept. 4 memo signed by JNF president Milton shapiro was sent to the JNF board, regional presidents and staff instructing them not to speak with reporters.

Richard Goldstein, director of JNF's New Jersey region, said he is not privy to the panel's report and referred all questions to Cohen.

A three-month investigation of JNF finances by this reporter has revealed that not only are there discrepancies in the amount of money JNF claim it transfers to Israel, but JNF appears to be spending substantially more than expected on its domestic budget.

According to a JNF budget document signed by comptroller Jack Grunspan, in 1994 JNF transferred $12,476,450 million to Keren Kayemeth Leisrael (KKL), as JNF is known in Israel, to plant trees and undertake other projects. KKL would not confirm specific figures. In a memo in response to a reporter's questions, Benny Mushkin, KKL's director for information and communication, writes that JNF of America sends $8-10 million annually. IRS forms for 1994, however, reveal that after paying all salaries and other administrative expenses, JNF had less than $8 million (out of $26 million its raises) available to transfer to Israel. Despite numerous opportunities to clarify the issue, JNF officials refused to issue a detailed explanation, choosing to have an independent committee review its finances; a report has not yet been issued.

Paul Jeser, JNF's national campaign director, regularly explains at board meetings that a chunk of JNF monies is sent to Latin America for KKL activities. According to participants at those meetings, the most recent in Chicago in July, Jeser again confirmed the transfer of funds on behalf of KKL and at KKL's request. Jeser declined to be interviewed. Dr. Samuel I. Cohen, JNF's executive vice president, confirmed in an interview that money has been transferred to Latin America on behalf of KKL, but declined to elaborate.

A former JNF official maintains the transfers have been taking place for about a decade, but this reporter was not able to find records of transfers of funds to KKL in Latin American in JNF budget documents, IRS forms or audited reports. Estimates on the amount of money sent to Latin America range from $100,000 to $1 million a year, but no board members or regional directors interviewed for this article have seen any written reports on Latin America money transfers. Shapiro and JNF comptroller Grunspan refused to answer any questions about the monies.

Even though Dr. Samuel Cohen confirmed the JNF of America allocations on behalf of KKL to Latin America, KKL officials said there are no KKL expenses in that region of the world. All the fund-raising activities are volunteer, and no emissaries are sent from Israel, according to Dr. Benzion Bar Levi, education director of KKL for Israel and the Diaspora.

"There are no monies going from KKL to Latin America directly or through JNF in America," said Danny Molad, director of KKL activities in Latin America and Spain.

"JNF is caught in a tough spot," said Ben Guefen of Houston, a former donor, who, along with his friend Steve Breslauer, also of Houston, has been spearheading a drive to have JNF account for the money it raises.

Meanwhile, Hadassah has so far raised #2.2 million toward a $3.3 million JNF park project it has adopted at the northern entrance to Beersheva.

Yet Natan Sas, the director of projects for KKL in Israel, said the budget for the Beersheva project is $2.7 million, not $3.3 million.

According to Claire Baer, Hadassah chair of the fund-raising drive, six percent - about $200,000 - of what Hadassah raises stays with that organization to finance the fund-raising drive. Asked to comment on the $400,000 differential, of which she was not aware, Baer responded, "Why are you trying to bring JNF to its knees? It's a good organization.... Please don't call me anymore." JNF and KKL refused to comment on the matter.

In 1995, JNF spend $12,941,784 on salaries and benefits, or roughly half the cash it raised. Another $5,362,240 was spent on administration and other expenses, leaving about $8 million for Zionist education, the Arid Lands Consortium, other projects and allocations to KKL in Israel.

"I find it hard to believe that an organization whose motto is 'Israel is our only priority' has been able to get away with using most of the money they raise for administration," said Guefen.

According to the Council of Better Business Bureau's Philanthropic Advisory Service, JNF met 18 of the service's 21 standards for charitable solicitations. JNF did not include a detailed schedule of expenses incurred for each major program and support activity, information that would allow prospective donors to make informed decisions about JNF, according to the CBBB.

"What the law states in plain English," said Robert Kobel, a public affairs officer at the Internal Revenue Service, "is that any organization with tax-exempt status must use a `substantial' amount of the funding they receive from whatever sources for the purposes that the organization was formed. There can't be an overload of administrative expenses." He said the IRS is looking into the case, but could not comment further.

Questions about its finances caused JNF to convene several damage-control meetings - in New York and in Chicago - and appoint a four-person panel to investigate the allegations. The report was initially due to be released at the end of July, but has been delayed several times. As this paper goes to press, the report is still not available, and still has not been presented to JNF's national board for review.

The panel's report will include an audit by Deloitt & Touche, which, as of press time, also has not been issued.

Breslauer and Guefen submitted materials and offered to be interviewed by phone or in person. They were told by the committee's chair, lawyer Marian Bretton-Granatoor, that the panel had all the information it needed.

"It's a Sam Cohen-appointed panel, so we expect them to exonerate JNF," said Breslauer. Bretton-Granatoor, in an interview, declined to reveal the contents of the report, but did confirm that Cohen approached her to chair the panel. The other panelists are Joseph Matz, president of JNF in Chicago; Jacob Stein, former head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; and Rabbi Israel Miller, an Orthodox leader.

The panel is allegedly sharing its documents and deliberations with JNF lawyer Melvin Salberg, Sam Cohen and Shapiro. The draft document, with reportedly covers 32 points, is said to clear JNF of any worngdoing, according to a JNF insider, who added that "It does, however, recommend changes in procedures on two minor issues."

Panel Finds JNF Erred a Bit, But It Clears Fund of Fraud
New York
October 18, 1996
NEW YORK -- A special committee investigating charges of financial impropriety at the Jewish National Fund of America says there is no evidence of wrongdoing at the organization, and instead blames "inefficiencies" and accounting errors for the "atmosphere of suspicion" at the organization.

The JNF is releasing this week its long-awaited report by the special committee, along with a Deloitte & Touche audit of the group founded by Theodor Herzl in 1901. The report had been delayed to enable Deloitte & Touche to obtain legal consent to examine the New York financial records of Keren Kayemet L'Yisrael, the Israel-based operating agent of JNF. The special committee reported that it "did not expand the scope of [its] investigation to address any specific issues raised in recent weeks."

The special committee's findings appear to fall into line with many of JNF's own explanations of financial discrepancies at the organization. If unsatisfied with the special committee's report -- which seems all but certain given its conclusions -- JNF's Houston dissidents who prompted the inquiry and who have already predicted that it would be a "whitewash" can pursue civil legal suits or try to prod federal action against the organization.

"The Committee has determined that there is no evidence of fraud, misconduct, malfeasance by JNF personnel, nor is there evidence of misappropriation of JNF funds," the report stated. "The Committee has determined that there do, accounting and fund raising inefficiencies, as well as errors in JNF's financial statements themselves."

The JNF board selected the independent special committee, which included two former chairmen of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a former New York City assistant district attorney. The members were Marian Bretton-Granatoor, a litigator for Merrill Lynch, Joseph Metz, president of JNF in Chicago, Jacob Stein and Rabbi Israel Miller.

One key similarity between JNF's explanation for confusion at the organization and that of the special committee involves the transfer of money to South America. JNF officials told the Forward last week that funds thought to have been transferred to South America by the organization were really Keren Kayemet monies sent to South America at the behest of its Israeli partner. The committee embraced this explanation: "A lack of understanding of how the relationship between JNF and KKL functions may have served to raise concerns about the flow of JNF funds to the KKL U.S. bank account."

Another issue the panel looked into was that of money earmarked for "Zionist education." The panel found that JNF spent $16,636,880 on the program for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 1994. Here the committee reported that Deloitte & Touche was "unable to complete its intended audit." "Deloitte & Touche deems the term `Zionist education' too broad a designation to enable them to determine whether all amounts recorded by JNF as expended for `Zionist education' are properly recorded," the committee found. JNF failed to provide the accounting firm "documentation to support some of the items reflected on its schedule."

Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. Phoenix, Arizona
October 18, 1996

Two by two.

That's how classical Jewish texts mandate solicitations of charity.

Tzedakah was collected by two agents working together to avoid opportunities for malfeasance or even the merest hint of impropriety.

Those parnasim, lay leaders of old, have evolved into today's boards of directors who oversee the operations of philanthropic institutions. They hold the ultimate responsibility for the collection of millions of charitable dollars and their allocation to a plethora of good causes.

Though the scope and scale of the endeavor has changed, the responsibility of today's parnasim remains the same -- to ensure that the conduct of charitable affairs is performed ethically, morally and legally.

Controversies in recent years involving such well-respected charitable institutions as United Way and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People point up the need for lay leaders to monitor actively an organization's performance. They must keep themselves fully informed about the agency's operations and speak out when there are issues of concern.

Agency professionals have a contingent responsibility to solicit and encourage board involvement and supply pertinent financial data or other information. Open communication between lay and professional leaders allows board members to perform effectively and ensures that the institution's reputation remains beyond reproach.

The practice of calling for an independent accounting or audit is also rooted in Jewish tradition and reflects the sanctity with which Jews imbue this work. The appointment of a special committee to investigate alleged improprieties at Jewish National Fund illustrates the heavy responsibility such institutions bear and the necessity of board members to assure that they operate according to the highest ethical and moral standards.

Board membership is both an honor and a privilege. It is also a sacred trust.

JNF spending scrutinized
by Vicki Cabot
Contributing Editor
Jewish News of Greater Phoenix
Phoenix, Arizona
October 18, 1996

An independent audit of Jewish National Fund by Deloitte & Touche and a report of a four-member special committee, appointed by Jewish National Fund board president Milton Shapiro to look at JNF finances, are expected to be released later this week.

The study was spurred by questions about whether JNF is using resources contributed for specific projects to cover administrative or other expenses and whether it is withholding such information from its donors.

Shapiro asked the committee, appointed April 30, to take 60 days to investigate complaints by JNF contributors Steve and Sandy Breslauer of Houston. The Breslauers made a $10,000 donation to JNF in January 1994 and suspect now, after a year-long effort to obtain information about JNF's finances, that only a portion of their contribution was used for planting trees in an AIDS memorial forest in Israel.

The Breslauers, who asked that JNF convene the special committee, now question its impartiality and the delay in releasing its findings.

Marianne Bretton-Granatoor, committee chair, told Jewish News last week, "We are in the process of finalizing the report" but would not predict when it would be made public. Bretton-Granatoor is in-house counsel for Merrill Lynch and wife of the rabbi of Stephen S. Wise Synagogue in New York.

Meanwhile, a three-part series on JNF finances by investigative journalist Yossi Abramowitz has been circulated to Jewish newspapers.

Jewish News decided not to publish the series, which was underwritten by an anonymous grant which the writer subsequently returned, pending release of the JNF independent report.

In his articles, Abramowitz suggests that JNF's administrative expenses exceed the level of 26 percent stated in its annual reports and may represent substantially more of its annual budget. At issue are expenditures for educational programming, salaries and benefits.

JNF spokespersons maintain that the agency has committed no financial improprieties and that the committee report will vindicate the almost 100-year-old institution known best for planting trees in Israel and more recently for undertaking more ambitious land development projects.

JNF Communications Director Mark Cohen stands by the 26 percent overhead figure and speaks emotionally about the commitment of JNF's lay leadership and professional staff to its mission of reclaiming land.

Locally, Elisa Simon of JNF's Phoenix office said that donor inquiries into JNF spending are infrequent and that she responds by mailing a copy of the agency's annual report.

"I've never had anyone refuse to make a donation based on overhead costs. And I've never had anyone ask for more detailed information." Simon said. She has received three telephone calls inquiring about the investigation and has told callers that she will forward them a copy of the committee's report when it is issued.

JNF Failings Make Waves
Jewish Advocate
November 7, 1996

That an internally generated Jewish National Fund financial audit found no fraud or malfeasance in the monetary deficiencies in its operation is nothing to cheer about. Severe mismanagement is spelled out in actions the audit recommends. Decisive and revealing changes called for include: the installation of a new independent auditor and fiscal officer, restructuring accounting operations, eliminating certain campaign practices, reducing office expenses, defining accountability at all levels, and rethinking budgetary programs. In essence, the failing run the gamut of the operation!

Evaluations enfolded within these criticisms spell out in every day practices questionable expense accounts for executives, excessive expenditure in raising funds, blanks in exactly where monies went, and too little transmitted for vital infrastructure work in a reestablished Israel that is the JNF obligation and that has elicited a steady, 95- year stream of gifts from the Diaspora.

In short, between the lines of this audit is the story of a trust besotted, and of a venerable and beloved agency in Jewish life that helped to foster and bring to fruition the fulfillment of the dream of our people for a homeland, gone wrong. It is a serious blot on Jewish history. It raises doubts about our other major agencies which handle huge sums of publicly contributed money, such as the JNF annual income estimated in the $30 million range. It is important for them to come forward now, and through independently audited accounts reassure their loyal supporters that the revelations about JNF represent an aberration in Jewish life.

This distasteful episode also brings boards of directors, especially on the national level, under scrutiny. Are these positions viewed as ego trips, as individual power displays, or as leadership roles imposing solemn obligation? Obviously, it is imperative that laymen who sit on such boards conceive of themselves as faithfully and knowledgeably overseeing the interests and honesty in operation of the organization, while serving as guardians and enforcers of the will of the membership and/or donors.

Nor should it be forgotten that at the rock bottom of this exposure of the Jewish National Fund were the efforts of a determined and competent investigative reporter, Boston's own Yosef I. Abramowitz. And that this newspaper had the courage and responsibility to publish his findings. The failure to do so by other important segments of the American Jewish press raises questions about the kind of pressures or judgment that may bind their freedom. It is not excessive to warn that Jewish continuity in a democratic society is bound up with open and free expression on all levels.

As to the Jewish National Fund itself, its important work must go forward with renewed resolve. Bit it is questionable whether the public can place confidence in its present group of top level executives. It's up to its board to decide!

JNF to shift management, resources in wake of probe
by Cynthia Mann
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
New York
November 20, 1996
NEW YORK, Nov. 19 (JTA) -- The Jewish National Fund of America is moving to put its house in order following upheaval over its spending and accounting practices.

In its most dramatic move, the JNF will launch a search for a replacement for Samuel Cohen, the organization's top professional, who is shifting to the post of senior executive vice president.

The decision was made this week during meetings with regional and national leaders that were closed to the media.

JNF also decided to:

Form a new committee charged with nominating new lay leaders.

Establish a task force to see how best to increase the amount of JNF money that gets sent to Israel.

The disclosure that JNF spends much more money for programming in the United States than it does in Israel is part of what triggered a recent public storm around the charity.

Hire an accounting firm to audit this year's spending and to review accounting procedures.

Cohen and JNF President Milton Shapiro said in a telephone interview after the meetings concluded Tuesday that accountants would also review the agency's management structure, both nationally and regionally. JNF has 24 regions across the country.

The actions follow revelations from an internal investigation that has shaken the charity's public image and threatened to hurt its capacity to raise money.

The probe, which included a partial independent audit, found no malfeasance by the organization.

Nonetheless, it found "management, accounting and fund-raising inefficiencies, as well as errors in JNF's financial statements."

The inquiry also pointed to the fact that only roughly 20 percent of the money it spends actually makes its way to Israel. The accounting system had obscured that fact.

This week's actions apparently reassured at least some of the leadership.

"Most people believe that the first steps have been taken to permit the organization to go forward with its mission and that the necessary public relations steps will be taken to help it raise money," said one JNF lay leader attending the meetings and who requested anonymity.

"Everybody realizes the negative publicity has hurt the organization very much," he said, characterizing the mood of the conference.

JNF historically has described its central mission as reclaiming and developing the land of Israel. Officials now concede that the extent of their programming outside Israel was not widely known.

In 1994, of $26.9 million in total expenditures, $5.5 million arrived in Israel. At the same time, $6.3 million of so-called "Israel programming" actually was used for educational purposes in the United States and another $4.5 million was spent in the United States on Zionist education.

Cohen, in the telephone interview, said that this week's meetings showed that there is "a clear consensus" that JNF should "forward much more money to Israel."

Surveys of scores of JNF representatives from across the country taken at the conference found that leaders want to see 50 percent of the funds go to the Jewish state.

To that end, said Cohen, all programming will be "re-examined."

At the same time, both he and Shapiro defend JNF's past spending choices.

"Every penny spent by JNF is spent on or on behalf of Israel," Shapiro said. "Am Yisrael is not housed only in Israel."

Cohen, who said he is shifting posts at his own request, agreed.

"We've been investing in our future and these investments have paid solid dividends," Cohen said, pointing to increased income, stepped-up involvement, especially by young people, and "a solid basis for hope for the future."

Cohen also denied that the organization had been damaged by the probe, saying that "there has been no evidence of loss of income."

He said he is confident that JNF "will emerge strengthened from the process."

Bob Levine, JNF's national campaign chairman, echoed this optimistic view.

He said two recent fund-raising events in New Jersey took in donations that "equaled or surpassed" donations at the same events last year.

Some of JNF's critics are mollified for now.

Assuming that JNF makes good on its pledges, "we are quite optimistic that things really are going to be changed and that the mission of JNF will come back to being what it's supposed to be," said Sandra Breslauer of Houston.

Breslauer and her husband, Steve, were JNF lay activists whose questions about the charity had helped spur the probe.

Meanwhile, Shapiro publicly defended Cohen's role and performance.

In a statement, Shapiro said that Cohen "has been an inspiration to all who have worked with him and he has motivated countless people of all ages to love the land of Israel and the JNF."

No longer responsible for the day-to-day operations, Cohen will "concentrate on long-range strategic planning to bring the message of the Jewish National Fund to the broader community," read a JNF announcement.

The JNF lay leader who requested anonymity said that JNF needs "a Mr. Clean who is a great operating officer to put his imprimatur" on the charity as the new chief executive.

In wake of probe, JNF shifting management, resources
Cynthia Dettelbach
The Cleveland Jewish News
November 22, 1996
In wake of probe, JNF shifting management, resources.


The Jewish National Fund of America is moving to put its house in order following upheaval over its spending and accounting practices.

In its most dramatic move, the JNF will launch a search for a replacement for Samuel Cohen, the organization's top professional, who, after 19 years, is being shifted to the post of senior executive vice president.

Chief financial officer Jack Grunspan resigned several weeks ago, when the story about JNF's problems first broke in the press. Campaign director Paul Jeser has taken another position with American Friends of Hebrew University.

The disclosure that JNF spends much more money for programming in the United States than it does in Israel is part of what triggered a recent public storm around the charity.

JNF lay president Milton Shapiro appointed a task force of regional officers and directors to look at the JNF structure and make some recommendations. Stuart A. Gertman, lay president of JNF Cleveland, is a member of that task force which was convened early this week in New York during meetings with regional and national leaders.

The consensus among task-force members was that things had to change and that the amount of money sent to Israel will have to increase. JNF will do so, says Gertman, by restructuring administration expenses and making staff cuts. The organization has 24 regions across the country.

An accounting company will be hired to do a management audit, and aid in the restructuring of finances. In addition, a committee will be formed to nominate next year's lay leaders who will work in tandem with existing lay leaders this year.

"Within the next six months, JNF will look a lot different," predicts Gertman. "In that time, we'll be hiring a new chief executive officer, new campaign director and a new chief financial officer."

The actions follow revelations from an internal investigation that has shaken the charity's public image and threatened to hurt its capacity to raise money.

The probe, which included a partial independent audit, found no malfeasance by the organization.

Nonetheless, it found "management, accounting and fund- raising inefficiencies, as well as errors in JNF's financial statements."

The inquiry also pointed to the fact that only roughly 20% of the money it spends actually makes its way to Israel. The accounting system had obscured that fact.

Gertman acknowledges, further, that JNF has done "a bad job" in explaining the educational component of the organization taking place outside of Israel. The task force agreed, he says, that "we've got to be forthcoming about the numbers and about what education really means."

As a task-force member, Gertman says, "I was aggressive" about stressing "the need for human as well as structural change. I care about the cause and the credibility of the institution."

Assuming that JNF makes good on its pledges, "we are quite optimistic that things really are going to be changed and that the mission of JNF will come back to being what it's supposed to be," said Sandra Breslauer of Houston.

Breslauer and her husband, Steve, were JNF lay activists whose questions about the charity had helped spur the probe.
(with JTA reports)

JNF turns 95 amid controversy
December 29, 1996
The Jerusalem Post

As the Jewish National Fund celebrates its 95th anniversary today, it is facing a revolt from some of its regional leaders, who contend that the venerable Zionist organization is mismanaged and fails to send a respectable amount of funds to Israel. They are calling for the ouster of the national director and other officers.

The complaints come as JNF is reviewing its structure, revising its accounting, admitting an image problem and replacing its key professional staff after an audit highlighted numerous deficiencies.

Samuel Cohen, who has been the director of JNF for nearly 20 years, will no longer be responsible for daily operations but for long-range strategic planning. In addition to a new chief executive officer, JNF is searching for a new chief financial officer. A number of task forces are reviewing the structure of JNF and considering a change in the proportion of funds that are sent to Israel, according to JNF President Milton Shapiro.

However, Michael Lipof, head of JNF's New England region, said Cohen and Shapiro must resign.

"We can't do anything meaningful until we have a clean slate," Lipof said. "As long as the perpetrators of this mismanagement are in place, we can't go forward."

A recent, independent audit conducted by the Deloitte and Touche accounting firm cleared JNF of allegations of financial misconduct, which were raised by several regional lay leaders.

"There is no evidence of fraud, misconduct {and} malfeasance by JNF personnel, nor is there any evidence of misappropriation of JNF funds," according to a report to JNF's board.

But there were management, accounting and fund-raising inefficiencies, as well as errors in JNF's financial statements that led to an "atmosphere of suspicion," the report said. It was impossible to specify, for example, how much was spent on education and other activities.

Lipof said that JNF's administrative spending was "unbridled" and that only 20 percent was spent on Israel.

"How can we ask our community to donate to an organization that is so top heavy that it is keeping 80 cents on the dollar?" he said.

His assessment was challenged by Robert Levine, JNF's national campaign chairman. JNF raised about $30 million last year, of which some $6m. was collected in "deferred gifts," which are essentially commitments for bequests. Effectively 40% of what JNF raises is destined for Israel, said Levine, an accountant by profession. That amount is some $5m. of the available cash, which is spent immediately, added to the "deferred gifts." Some 30% of JNF's costs are administrative, Levin said.

The crux of the clamor appears to concern Zionist education and the high costs of selling trees. Their costs, already misunderstood, were confused by sloppy bookkeeping and poor public relations, Levine said.

JNF is the only organization in the US conducting extensive Zionist education programs.

"Programming is equally part of our mission," Levine said, adding that the World Zionist Congress charged JNF with undertaking Zionist education in the Diaspora.

This season, leading up to Tu Bishvat, is JNF's most public educational and fund-raising effort. JNF is expected to sell 100,000 trees - one at a time - to children in Jewish day and afternoon schools.

However, it costs JNF $5 to process an individual $10 tree sale. Levine opposes recent suggestions that JNF stop selling single trees. "It's an educational instrument, a symbol," he said. "It's worth losing money to have that symbol."

The regional leaders are to meet in Chicago next month, shortly before Tu Bishvat, which falls on January 23. Lipof said some of the current regional JNF boards may fold. "{Last year,} I was considered a heretic," Lipof said, adding that now discontent with JNF is "widespread."

photo; Caption: Moshe Rivlin, world chairman of the Jewish National Fund,; Credit: Joe Malcolm

`I Won't Let You Down': Lauder elected Jewish National Fund president, stresses youth, ecology.
by Eric J. Greenberg
The New York Jewish Week
February 14, 1997

In what is expected to be the start of a major overhaul for the Jewish National Fund, New York City billionaire cosmetics heir Ronald S. Lauder was unanimously elected president of the Jewish National Fund during a special session of the board of directors on Monday night.

The election makes Lauder a viable candidate to become chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations -- the person who represents American Jewry before kings, presidents and prime ministers across the world.

Lauder, a former U.S. ambassador to Austria, declined to affirm or deny his candidacy for the conference chairmanship during an exclusive interview with The Jewish Week on Wednesday.

"I've just one day ago been elected president of JNF," Lauder joked. "Let me get into this job first."

But Lauder did not close the door on the possibility. He noted that he has been involved with the conference in the past and called it "a fascinating group" that he was very interested in.

But he said no one has contacted him about applying to be chairman. "Nothing has happened." As for his potential candidacy, he said "It's not a subject I can comment on."

The conference nomination committee is expected to name a candidate by June.

However, the 53-year-old heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune had much to say about his plans for the future of JNF, which he called the Zionist organization in the best position to help Israel's future.

He said his priorities will be to help Israel face "great ecological problems," particularly the scarcity of fresh water in the region. Equally important, and related, he said is bringing more young people into JNF.

"The ecology of Israel greatly affects the younger generation," he declared. "The future of JNF is to get young people involved."

Lauder said assuring an adequate water supply "is Israel greatest problem in the next decade."

He noted the issue affects the whole region. "Water is a unifying factor. Water does not know boundaries."

He said he is very familiar with the issue and that JNF is in a unique position to fund studies about water supply and help provide technological answers. He also stressed other ecological projects, such as developing the Negev Desert and fish farms.

"The possibilities are enormous," he said.

Lauder stressed he will be an independent president, stressing he is the first JNF president not elected as part of a Zionist organization.

"I am rather independent, and I can bring the two parts of JNF together," he said referring to one faction known as the old Zionist guard and the younger professionals in the 24 regional offices around the country.

Regarding the past year, where JNF has faced an internal investigation that exposed a host of fiscal and management problems, Lauder said he intends on starting "with a clean slate."

"It's hard for me to comment on what went on in the past," he said. "I will be aware of what happened, but let's go on to the future."

He said he intends to "very shortly" make JNF's outmoded accounting procedures "second to none." He will also ensure that a greater percentage of the funds raised ends up in Israel. An audit last year found that only about 21 percent of the money raised goes to Israel.

Lauder said he will try to bring in new people to make the organization more respected, and identify current people whom he said are excellent but have not been allowed to perform as well as they could.

Asked about the future of Samuel Cohen, the 20-year executive director of JNF whom many critics blame for the recent financial and publicity problems, Lauder said he has only spoken to him "in general terms."

He said more specific conversations will take place "in the next couple of weeks."

Lauder also expected to meet with his good friend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this weekend to discuss his new role.

At the hour-long meeting at JNF House in Manhattan Monday night before about 100 board members, Lauder said: "Thank you for your faith in me, I won't let you down."

He immediately assumed the JNF presidency Feb. 10, following the resignation of former JNF president Milton Shapiro, a New York attorney.

"We must be sure our own house is in order," Lauder said at the meeting, which was closed to reporters. "We must restructure our operation, upgrade our financial controls for an organization of JNF's complexity, and reduce non-program costs throughout JNF's national and regional operations."

Facing pressure to restructure the JNF in light of revelations about accounting problems, Shapiro stepped down with almost a year left to his second two-year term.

In order for Lauder to be elected, all four JNF vice presidents agreed to turn down the post.

Supporters say Lauder, a former U.S. ambassador to Austria, and a pioneer in rekindling Judaism and capitalism in Eastern Europe, is expected to bring new credibility to the JNF following months of problems. They include revelations that far less money raised goes to Israel than expected, and that the accounting system is outmoded.

So far, Lauder is the only new face at the helm: all the officers remain and longtime executive vice president Samuel Cohen continues to run the day-to-day activities of the agency, even as a replacement is being sought.

Reaction to Lauder's election appeared to be positive. Park East Synagogue Rabbi Arthur Schneier, who would be competing with Lauder, his congregant, for the chairman of the president's conference, said the new JNF president "will certainly bring fresh ideas and will reinvigorate" the organization.

JNF critics Steve and Sandy Breslauer of Houston also welcomed Lauder's win.

"It's a good first step," said Breslauer, a former JNF regional officer whose allegations of mismanagement led to a major internal probe of JNF last fall. But Breslauer cautioned it was too early to tell how successful Lauder will be in revamping the agency.

"We still have to see the remainder of the professional infrastructure changes."

Outgoing President Milton Shapiro told The Jewish Week that he resigned in midterm "to accelerate the restructuring process" and "restore confidence and trust" in JNF.

Shapiro, reflecting on his tenure, asserted that "there was no failure of my administration. My only failure was perhaps to fully publicize the programs," he said.

But many current and former JNF officials privately criticize JNF national leaders for stonewalling those in the organization and the media who questioned the internal investigation and allegations of mismanagement.

Shapiro revealed that a search to find candidates for new national officers has been suspended to allow Lauder to find his own team.

Several sources said a special search committee has already selected a candidate to replace Cohen, but they held back from announcing it until Lauder took office. Sam Cohen was not available for comment, according to spokesman Mark Cohen, who is not related.

Shapiro told The Jewish Week that JNF has also selected a new chief financial officer to replace Jack Grunspan.

JNF sets goal: 70% to Israel by Fiscal '98
Michael Gelbwasser
Jewish Advocate
February 20, 1997

JNF sets goal: 70% to Israel by Fiscal '98.

Before last fall's internal audit revealed other wise, most people believed that most money given to the Jewish National Fund went directly to Israel.

That conception may become reality by fiscal year 1998, if agency officials have their way.

JNF's Committee on Sending Money to Israel has recommended that the agency's national leaders "work toward" sending 70 percent of its income to Israel "within the next two fiscal years," says member Michael Lipof, president of JNG's New England chapter. The other 30 percent would support overhead costs and what JNF terms "Zionist education."

The pledge was one of two actions JNF officials took Monday to help restore the agency's public image. That same day, during a special meeting in New York, JNG's national board unanimously elected Ronald Lauder national president. The cosmetics heir and philanthropist will replace Milton Shapiro, who resigned Monday, immediately and finish Shapiro's two-year term, set to expire on Dec. 31.

Shapiro was among the senior national lay and professional leaders that Lipof and other regional presidents wanted ousted after a series of articles by Yosef Abramowitz in The Jewish Advocate and an internal audit last fall revealed that the agency was sending only about 20 percent of its funds to Israel for tree-planting and other land development projects, the agency's central mission. JNF officials then began developing reforms to improve its financial management and national leadership.

Initially, the reform process was occurring too slowly in Lipof's opinion. So last month, he threatened to disband his board and then resign if JNF's national leaders didn't quit and reform plans weren't accelerated. At first, many regional presidents and other JNF leaders criticized Lipof for his outspokenness. But by Monday's meting, "several regions" were supporting him.

Lipof left that meeting pleased with the changes at JNF and eager to facilitate them. He planned to brief his board Wednesday.

"We really feel vindicated," Lipof said Tuesday, "because we were accused of being the rabble rousers and we weren't. We were calling for change, and now change is happening.

And more changes are imminent. JNF officials may name a new executive vice president within the month and a chief financial officer soon, Lipof said.

"There's been a lot of progress internally and now, for the first time, we see some external progress," he said. "The general public will now see some real change."

Under a plan JNF official recently established, the executive vice president will oversee the agency's day-to-day operations. Senior executive vice president Samuel Cohen, the former executive vice president, will oversee long-term strategic planning, Mark Cohen, JNF's national director of public relations, said Tuesday.

Those duties are noteworthy because Lipof and others hold Samuel Cohen, like Shapiro, responsible for mismanaging JNF into its current situation. In contrast, some JNF officials are calling Lauder their "white knight" who will lead their organization back to respectability.

"Nothing but positive results will come out from this," New England board treasurer Harvey Greenstein said Tuesday. Greenstein is a regional delegate to the national board and, like Lipof, attended Monday's meeting. "I think the worst of it is over."

Tzedakah In The Sunshine: A Rockville economist's report sheds light on the finances and observance levels of Jewish charities.
David Conn
Baltimore Jewish Times
March 21, 1997

Ira P. Kaminow is on a mission: To take all the mystery out of giving, and bring it into the light.

As Purim rolls around, with Passover not long after, many Jews are following the tradition of matanot levyanim, or gifts to the poor, decreed by Mordechai himself, Queen Esther's uncle. Those who want to find out who is most deserving can turn to Mr. Kaminow's small company, Tzedakah Reports.

Since late 1995, the Rockville-based economist has been researching and churning out a series of reports that examine the goals, religious observance level and finances of 50 Jewish charities across the nation. By this year's High Holidays, he expects to have a total of 90 to 100 reports.

"I did it because of all the solicitations I get, basically," said Mr. Kaminow, 56. "And having no way to know which were worth giving to.

"One of my intentions with this is to make people more proactive in their giving," he said, sitting in the study of his Rockville home, surrounded by bookcases of mostly Hebrew texts.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y. -- "Weren't all good Jews born in Brooklyn?" -- Mr. Kaminow was raised in a family he called "kind of left-wing Orthodox," and attended a Jewish day school, before moving on to public schools.

Since 1992 he and several partners have run their own policy consulting firm called Capital Insights Group. His company's clients, mostly mutual and pension funds, are looking for information to help them invest.

"There are clearly a lot of metaphors between investing and tzedakah," Mr. Kaminow points out. "What people are doing is trying to find out what charities best match what they're trying to accomplish."

At least, those who subscribe to Tzedakah Reports. Last year the company had about 200 customers, up from about 50 at the end of 1995. These days, most people pay $39 per series of 40 to 50 reports.

What they receive is a laundry list of items, including a description of each charity and its goals; the level of religious observance, such as keeping kosher and observing Shabbat; staffing information, including salaries; any awards, endorsements or grants from governments or philanthropies; and a breakdown of revenues, assets and spending.

Mr. Kaminow was careful to note that he doesn't actually audit anyone -- nor, for that matter, do any of the four or five national companies that review secular charities, he said.

He does report whether an outside auditor was hired, and whether any red flags were raised.

In his report last year on the Jewish National Fund, for instance, he noted that auditors Deloitte & Touche found several examples of accounting irregularities that minimized the amount JNF spent on fund-raising. The report specifically challenges $6.5 million that Deloitte & Touche said was spent on Israel programs.

"Tzedakah Reports disagrees that this represents Israel programming," the report states. "The vast majority of the amount represents spending on publications, brochures, television, radio, and newspapers."

Mr. Kaminow said he's careful not to cross any lines of Halachah, or Jewish law, such as the prohibition against gossip or slander. He consults his many sourcebooks, as well as Rabbi Yitzhak Breitowitz, of the Woodside Synagogue in Silver Spring.

Mr. Kaminow has reported on charities ranging from MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger to the Zionist Organization of America. With a focus lately on subscriber requests, he hasn't done any of the Jewish federations, although he may venture into that arena.

Along with requests, "My policy is that any legitimate organization...who wants to provide the information, I'll do the [report] and send it out to my subscribers," Mr. Kaminow said.

That doesn't always happen, of course. "I run into a lot of charities that think this is the worst thing in the world," he said. "They have their private fiefdoms and they don't like the idea of sunshine."

For as long as he can stay afloat -- and he does intend to run Tzedakah Reports in the black -- Mr. Kaminow said he'll work to shine a little more light on Jewish giving.

Photo (Ira P. Kaminow)

Ranking shows Jewish charities compare well to non-Jewish ones
Joe Berkofsky
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
New York
September 26, 2003

NEW YORK, Sept. 25 (JTA) -- A Philadelphia-based foundation for social justice and the Jerusalem branch of a well-known Orthodox outreach group provide the bookends for a new ranking of Jewish charities.

The Shefa Fund and the Jerusalem Fund of Aish HaTorah sat at the top and bottom, respectively, of about 130 Jewish not-for-profit organizations among 2,500 groups rated recently by Charity Navigator, a new philanthropy watchdog.

Independent analysis of charities and philanthropies remains relatively rare, so many in the Jewish philanthropic world welcome the extra focus.

Such data "should serve as a reminder to donors that it is not enough to find a cause that tugs at your heart strings," said Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network. "We have to hold charities we care about to higher standards of efficiency, effectiveness and transparency."

In the 1990s, a scandal over hazy accounting practices at the United Way and reports that the Jewish National Fund was spending only a quarter of its income on Israeli tree-planting and environmental efforts led to increased scrutiny of Jewish philanthropies.

This latest examination of philanthropic causes, at, is based on the Form 990 tax returns that all not-for-profit charities except religious institutions must provide annually to the IRS.

Charity Navigator evaluated the groups' overall financial health, fund raising and organizational efficiency. The goal was to equip potential donors with enough detail to "make more intelligent giving decisions," spokeswoman Sandra Miniutti said.

Among all kinds of charities, Jewish and non-Jewish, the median fund-raising costs were about 8 cents of every dollar, she said -- "pretty good" compared to the most efficient charities. Those charities deemed the most efficient spent no more than 10 cents, or 10 percent, to raise each dollar. "Religious charities are fairly efficient in how they raise their money and how they allocate it," she said.

It's estimated that there are between $25 billion and $50 billion in assets in the coffers of U.S. Jewish philanthropies, from foundations and federations to nonprofits and pension funds.

What the watchdog calls religious charities range from museums to universities to the U.S.-based fund-raising arms of Israeli institutions to Jewish federations and political groups.

The watchdog assigned each charity up to 70 points and up to four stars, with better scores going to those showing greater financial health and streamlined bureaucracies.

The Jewish groups ranked similarly to other nonprofits when it came to areas such as fund raising and program expenses, but ranked poorly regarding money in the bank.

Checked for their "working capital ratio," or how much cash each group would have left if fund-raising dried up, Jewish charities had enough to last for only 3.6 months on average, compared to 8.3 months for non-Jewish charities.

Such "liquid assets" could be cash, stocks or easily sellable property such as real estate. The Jewish charities ranked lower because they typically raise the bulk of their money around the High Holidays and at the end of the year, but don't have cash on hand year-round, Miniutti said.

Charities such as family foundations cannot dip into their endowment principle for emergency cash without board approval, though interest on those endowments can be considered cash on hand, she added.

Topping the Jewish charities was the Shefa Fund, which won a four-star, 69-point rating. The fund, dedicated to advancing social responsibility through grants, spent four cents to raise each dollar, according to its Form 990.

Jeffrey Dekro, president of the Shefa Fund, said his organization's first-place ranking "is really consistent with the doctrine of our work."

Shefa Fund calls that philosophy "a contemporary Torah of money," he said.

"It's not just about efficiency in an organization, but about trying to take the most progressive elements of our tzedakah tradition," he said, using the Hebrew word for charity, "and combining them with our social activism tradition."

In all, 33 of the Jewish groups won four stars, 51 gained three stars, 27 got two stars, 17 were given one star and three received no star.

At the bottom of the Jewish heap sat the Jerusalem Fund of Aish HaTorah, which is dedicated to Jewish education and outreach. The group garnered only 19 points and zero stars, spending 23 cents to raise each dollar.

In several cases, Charity Navigator ranked branches of the same charities separately because they were incorporated separately for nonprofit status and file different forms to the IRS.

Aish HaTorah represented one such case, with its New York branch, which it says is dedicated to "wisdom for living," gaining 53 points and three stars, spending only 13 cents to bring in every dollar.

Irwin Katsof, the Los Angeles-based president of Aish HaTorah, said he couldn't discuss the findings until he had studied them more closely.

"I'm not really going to comment until I've had a chance to analyze how they did it," Katsof said.

Among the more visible groups knocked by a low ranking was the American Jewish Congress, which received 22 points and zero stars, spending 35 cents to raise each dollar.

The AJCongress is dedicated to protecting civil rights, defending the separation of church and state, fighting anti- Semitism and supporting Israel.

The AJCongress' executive director, Neil Goldstein, said the rankings do not provide a true picture of each organization's activities.

For example, he was about to fly to France to discuss anti-Semitism there with French officials.

"Am I administrative or am I program?" he asked. "In essence, we're being penalized for being efficient. We think it's a simplistic approach and we're troubled by it."

JNF, which worked to rebuild its image and organization after the controversy over its expenses, has teamed with a Washington-based watchdog called That group uses 990s to bring "transparency" to Jewish philanthropy, said its founder, Ira Kaminow.

This time around, JNF ranked low among the Jewish organizations, getting 41 points and two stars for spending a quarter to raise every dollar.

But JNF has "made significant progress" by cutting expenses and growing revenue, spokesperson Sarina Roffe said.

"The important thing to remember is that JNF is a grass-roots organization, and it costs the same amount of money to process an $18 check as it does a $10,000 check," she said.

Charendoff, whose Jewish Funders Network is an umbrella group for many of the more than 8,000 private Jewish family foundations in the United States, some of which were rated by Charity Navigator, said the rankings provide useful data but miss some subtleties.

While the rankings allow one to compare a range of similar charities for their efficiency, they offer only a snapshot that does not reflect an organization's development over time, he said.

Newer charities "may take a few years to achieve a balance between building the business and delivering the product," he said.

The rankings also do not take into account the size of an organization, he said. A small foundation may have only one fund-raising professional, accounting for a major share of its budget, compared to bigger organizations with more money and a few more fund-raisers.

Some nonprofits also may spend more in direct-marketing vehicles such as telemarketing because of their small size or because they're not well known, pushing up their overhead for fund-raising, Miniutti said.

The amount each charity spends to raise every dollar also may rise or fall depending on their aims, Charendoff added.

Charity Navigator's rankings, compiled in August and updated Sept. 3, were based on federal reports from 2001 and 2002, but the group "looked back" to 1997 and 1998 to "calculate growth as well," Miniutti said.

Other national Jewish non-profits that got ranked for overall efficiency included Hillel: the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, which ranked 10th, and the World Jewish Congress, which was listed 112th.

17) JNF-UK
The Jerusalem Post
March 29, 1999
JNF to JNF-UK: Stop using our name
By Elli Wohlgelernter

The Jewish National Fund yesterday ordered JNF-UK to stop using the JNF name, after the British association broke away from Jerusalem two weeks ago culminating a year- long rift.

The JNF board voted unanimously to support the executive in its dealings with the British group, which included a demand that JNF-UK open its books.

"We took legal measures in England, first asking for reports about money that was collected in our name over the past five years," said Shlomo Gravetz, JNF world chairman, who spent all last week in London with his lawyers. "They need to give us an answer in eight days whether they are prepared to give us their accounts. If they won't do so, we will take legal measures."

"We disallow them the use of our name anymore, as of today, and we will see what will be their reaction," he added.

Simon Winters, chief executive of JNF-UK, said there is no problem with JNF auditing its books.

"Our accounts are published, and are available for anyone to see," Winters said last night by phone from London. "They are audited accounts from a large firm of auditors, and we have nothing to hide. More than that, (Gravetz) sent in WZO accountants in November, which we were happy to accept, and they found nothing untoward." As for the use of the name "JNF," Winters said it is not JNF- Israel's domain.

"It's our name in the UK, that's the name that we trade by. What he hasn't understood is that JNF is our contractor in Israel, that carries out work on behalf of the JNF Charitable Trust in the UK."

When informing JNF on March 18 that is no longer would associate with the 98-year- old organization, JNF-UK asked to audit JNF's books, in order to determine the value of land that the JNF-UK says it owns.

Gravetz said that in his letter of response turning down the request, he wrote that JNF in England "was part of the worldwide Jewish effort to enable the Jewish people to come back to their homeland in Israel," and that therefore they have no claim to land.

JNF has been the organization through which world Jewry acquired land in Palestine since the turn of the century and owns some 17 percent of Israel's land.

18) JNF-Canada

The Jerusalem Report
March 10, 1994

The case against Montreal Rabbi Meyer Krentzman gets curiouser and curiouser.Sin ce his January arrest on charges of drug-trafficking, more and more accusations have been piling up against the rabbi and his co-defendant Andor Galandauer, the gabbai of a synagogue where Krentzman once worked.

The latest charges against Krentzman, former director of the Canadian Zionist Federation, include making false statements to obtain passports and connections with a Nigerian fraud gang.

A raid on Galandauer's factory, when 85 grams of heroin were found (following two sales of cocaine and heroin to undercover cops), was videotaped by a TV crew, and screened by local stations. The publicity surrounding the case has embarrassed and bewildered the local Jewish community. A Zionist Federation spokeswoman, who asked not to be named, said her organization "dissociates ourselves from him completely." Krentzman, 49, left his job there in 1988. He also had a 21/2-year stint as assistant director of the Jewish National Fund in Canada, but was dismissed because, explained senior consultant to the Fund Morris Zilka, "he simply was not a good fundraiser, not very good with money."

Krentzman, unemployed at the time of his arrest and the father of five, was already out on bail on two fraud-related charges, for which he is to stand trial in April. Six different unofficial collections have been organized within the Jewish community to help his and Galandauer's families and to defray legal costs.

The Jerusalem Report asked Pinchas Hirschsprung, the Orthodox rabbi who ordained Krentzman, if he had any intention of withdrawing his smikhah. "What? Now I should condemn him?" he replied. "He has enough tzures. I pity him." George Alexander / Montreal

19) New Scandal
Wed., February 23, 2005 Adar1 14, 5765
JNF spends more on wages than on trees
By Amiram Barkat

Last year it was reported that the JNF was in a deep budgetary crisis, that it was planning to lay off many employees and that activities in many areas would be severely curtailed. It turns out, however, that the JNF's budgetary difficulties end when senior executives are concerned.

Three months ago, Likud party member Haim Cohen was forced to resign as deputy chairman under a rotation agreement with another Likud member. Before he left his post, however, Cohen received an offer that was hard to refuse. The board offered him a job as an emissary, with wage terms that could easily be defined as fantastical.

Cohen was appointed as head of a JNF delegation to France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and Morocco. His monthly salary, paid in euros, is currently valued at NIS 41,000, which is 50 percent more than the average wage of other emissaries. In addition, Cohen receives a monthly "rent subsidy" of up to 2,400 euros for the apartment he maintains in Paris. Last week Cohen bought a new car for about 15,000 euros - and sent the bill to the JNF.

It is unclear what economic benefit Cohen is bringing to the JNF. Although there are Jews in Belgium and France, the JNF already has three emissaries working there. JNF donors in Morocco, Luxembourg and Spain can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The main duties of a JNF emissary are to organize fundraising events and represent Israel at official events.

The JNF currently has about 20 emissaries worldwide, at an average annual cost of $150,000 per emissary. In Europe alone there are 10 JNF emissaries. Due to the strengthening of the euro, the cost of each emissary in Europe has jumped to an average of almost $200,000 a year.

Donations, on the other hand, are continually shrinking: from $30 million in 2003 to about $25 million in 2004. Only a small percentage of these funds are actually raised by the Israeli emissaries.

Most of the JNF's contributions come from estates - from wills that people drew up in favor of the JNF years ago. A no less important share of the funding is raised by local activists. Knowledgeable sources say that in countries like France, about 70 percent of the money comes from estates, and that most of the JNF's funding in general is raised in two appeals in Britain and the United States. In 2004, for example, the appeal in the U.S. raised $8 million, representing more than 40 percent of the global total.

In closed forums, activists in both appeals harshly criticize the JNF's use of the money. In 2003 the JNF's budget stood at NIS 600 million, with 15 percent of that sum spent on forestation and another 15 percent on activities such as building reservoirs and rehabilitating rivers. Administrative expenses, such as salaries, car and pension expenses, accounted for 42.4 percent of the budget.

A sharp drop in revenues from land forced the JNF to trim its budget to NIS 450 million in 2004. Dozens of workers have left the JNF in the past year, and dozens of others are facing layoffs. Forestation, river rehabilitation and other nature conservation activities have been hit hard. The activities of the education department, which is in charge of relations with Jewish schools and preschools, have suffered worst of all.

The political bigwig mechanism that runs the JNF has not felt the cutbacks at all. The JNF is currently being managed by world co-chairmen who each have deputies. All four enjoy huge monthly salaries of NIS 30,000 to NIS 40,000, plus fringe benefits such as all-expenses-paid cars and trips abroad. Running the offices of the two co-chairmen costs the JNF close to NIS 2 million a year.

Only one of these co-chairmen, however - Yehiel Leket of the Labor party - works "full-time." JNF staff say that the other co-chairman, Ezra Binyamini of Likud, has hardly visited the organization's offices in the past 10 months since he had an argument with Leket, and has not been fulfilling the duties of the public position he holds. He was absent, for example, from this year's Tu Bishvat (Jewish Arbor Day) ceremonies, and did not participate in any of the dozens of tree-planting events held countrywide by the JNF. This reduction in Binyamini's active involvement in JNF affairs was not reflected in lowered costs to the organization: He continued to maintain an office, which includes two assistants and a driver.

To Binyamini's credit, it can be said that he does not forget friends. Before he came to the JNF he served as mayor of Hod Hasharon for many years. His right-hand man and director general of the municipality in those days was Shraga Greisman, who was appointed JNF emissary to southern Germany just a few months ago.

One of the most outrageous expenditures recorded by the JNF this past year was the payment of close to NIS 250,000 to cover the legal expenses of two senior JNF officials who sued each other. These were director general Yitzhak Elyashiv and former JNF chairman Shlomo Gravetz, who filed libel suits against one another following an exchange of remarks to the JNF Audit Committee.

Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge Noam Solberg rejected both suits, but the real loser in the whole affair was the JNF, which footed the bill. A JNF spokesman responded this week that the expenditure was approved in keeping with all the regulations anchored in the law.

In August 2003, Solberg had to intervene in a different dispute between JNF officials. This time the libel suit was filed by the internal auditor against another JNF official, who alleged that the auditor was using his position to "pick on him [the other official] and promote his own [the auditor's] interests."

The judge rejected that suit and wrote in his ruling, "It is apparent that the "Blue Box" was [being used as] a cash box, and that endless resources and energy were being invested in the wage terms and wellbeing of the JNF officials and their self-perpetuation, far more than on the redemption of the land and the other JNF goals."

The JNF responds: "In the past five years the JNF has invested some NIS 3.5 billion in purchasing land and preparing it for agriculture and settlement, in forestation projects, rehabilitating rivers, building water reservoirs, developing the forests for the public and strengthening ties with the public. Millions of Israelis hike through JNF forests free of charge. Tens of thousands participate in cultural and leisure events organized by chapters of Friends of JNF. You can surely see that there is no basis for the contention that the JNF has curtailed its public activities.

"As a result of the economic crisis in Israel and due to the drop in revenues from the Israel Lands Administration and donations from abroad, we undertook a series of streamlining and cost-cutting steps. Over the past few years the number of employees has been reduced from 3,400 to less than 1,000. The number of emissaries was cut from 36 to 20. These emissaries must submit an annual report of donations. Each emissary has an annual fund-raising target and annual work plan. In the past year the JNF raised close to $120 million.

"The emissaries' work is particularly essential in crisis periods like the one we are currently experiencing. Donations are the air the JNF breathes. The JNF continues to contribute to the quality of life and the environment in Israel, and to be loyal to its role as the Jewish people's trustee over its land."

As for Cohen's salary, the JNF spokesman said that its terms were "derived from his being the head of a delegation of JNF emissaries in countries for which he was responsible in his previous position as co-chairman. Cohen took over an existing position, and the terms of his employment were determined according to the criteria of the interministerial committee at the Foreign Ministry."

The spokesman also explained that Binyamini had "assumed responsibility for the JNF's recovery plan, promoting projects in Israel and relations with the local authorities. He was absent from the tree-planting events due to illness."

JNF America transferred only $8m of $30m donations

The fight for primacy is between the Jewish National Fund in Israel and in North America.

Dalia Tal 23 Feb 05 10:25

Sources inform “Globes” that Jewish National Fund (JNF) America president Ronald S. Lauder and JNF world chairman Yehiel Leket have disagreed for months about which causes to raise money for.
Consequently, JNF America has transferred to JNF Israel only part of the money it has raised in donations: $8 million out of $30 million. The remaining $22 million has been deposited in a bank account and not transferred to JNF's account.

Behind the clash reportedly lies a power struggle between JNF Israel and JNF America, centered on the latter's effort to transfer control of the organization from Israel to the US, as previously happened with the Jewish Agency.

JNF Israel insists on keeping its primacy in the organization. Disputes between JNF Israel and affiliated overseas organization have turned personal. JNF America S accuses Leket of refusing to listen to its staff.

Several months ago, Leket was elected vice president of the World Jewish Congress, whose president is Edgar Bronfman. Lauder reportedly wants to challenge Bronfman for the chairmanship. Part of this effort includes enhancing his status as president of JNF America.

The present argument is for which purposes money raised by JNF America will be used. JNF US says the money should be used for security issues, whereas JNF Israel says the JNF has nothing to contribute to defense, and should raise money only for its declared purposes - planting and maintaining forests, and preserving Israel's environment.

JNF Israel believes that there is no reason to compete against organizations such as Magen David Adom, the Association for Well-being of Israel Soldiers and ZAKA (Zihui Koprbanot Ason - Identifaction of Disaster Victims). The JNF raised only NIS 120 million in 2004, paralleling the decline in revenue from the Israel Land Administration (ILA).

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on February 23, 2005

At 5:28 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>This is whistleblowing? Why no
>fingerpointing? Very
>uncharacteristically mild of

I'm basically saying the JNF is unsalvageable. It's nothing but a slush fund for the wealthy. Don't give them your money. It won't be used efficiently. Everyone at the top worldwide needs to go.

Too mild?

>What did the JNF do to deserve
>this special treatment? What
>about Ronald Lauder? Where are
>your calls for fiscal

What's the point? The JNF is so far gone. I'd close all ofices worldwide except Israel and remove everyone at the top there.

At 5:30 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Did you even read the articles before you commented?

At 5:38 PM, Anonymous natan said...

Acutally, what this proves precisely is that you DON'T need an independent audit to discover malfeasance of this scale. There was no external audit and yet the entire issue came to light easily enough. Wrongdoing on this scale is VERY hard to conceal - a look at the books will out it every time - so in practice, the WJC's already held itself to a much higher accounting standard than the JNF - and has been found honest.

At 5:48 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>natan said...
>Acutally, what this proves
>precisely is that you DON'T need
>an independent audit to discover
>malfeasance of this scale. There
>was no external audit and yet
>the entire issue came to light
>easily enough.

I would note that it appears nothing has changed at the JNF in decades. It needs an external audit. But frankly I think the JNF is so far gone, I would shut most of it down and get rid of everyone at the top.

>Wrongdoing on
>this scale is VERY hard to
>conceal - a look at the books
>will out it every time - so in
>practice, the WJC's already held
>itself to a much higher
>accounting standard than the
>JNF - and has been found honest.

By itself pretty much, through documentation it provided and controlled.

Both need independent audits.

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

IS JWB letting JTS off the hook too?

At 9:14 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

I agree the JTS needs a proper audit and people should not give them money til there is actual accountability and transparency.

I'll look into this matter. If you can provide any evidence/allegations of wrong-doing vs. incompetence, that would help get a post from me quicker.

If you have more institutions you think need an audit, post them here with links to such information. Even if I can't find evidence/allegations of wrongdoing, I may do a post about organizations that misuse funds/have little accountability and transparency and take the position that people/the community should stop donations untill they clean up their act.

At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

> If you can provide any evidence/allegations of wrong-doing vs. incompetence, that would help get a post from me quicker.>

With all we know now, wouldn't the WJC also boil down to incompetence vs. wrong-doing? From everything that has been written, I have yet to see anything that even vaguely resembles a smoking gun.

At 5:57 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>With all we know now, wouldn't
>the WJC also boil down to
>incompetence vs. wrong-doing?

It may very well, as I've said, we'll need an audit to determine.

>From everything that has been written, I have yet to see anything that even vaguely resembles a smoking gun.

- from a news article
"But several Swiss Jewish officials are adamant about pursuing their call for a probe into past WJC activities. Two former WJC employees, Daniel Lack, who served as legal adviser, and Maya Ben Haim, who directed the Geneva office, were not permitted to speak at the Brussels conference. They have called for a serious look into the $1.2 million account — asking who activated it and why didn’t they know about it — but WJC officials say their complaints are based on bitterness over having been let go. (Virtually everyone involved who has raised questions about the WJC’s finances over the last six months has either been dismissed, given generous compensation, marginalized, or all three.)"

If you can find similar allegations in print about other Jewish organizations, I have no problem moving such stories from the back-burner to the front-burner. I'm usally working on several stories and have to prioritize.

At 6:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JWB needs to come current with the news. The Swiss paper FACTS that published these allegations has since retracted and published an apology (at least that is what a german speaker told me it says). Furthermore, the Geneva office employees were dismissed, at the behest of Leibler and Steinberg, well before any controversy arose (and given the less than spectacular allegations about the NOT MISSING $1.2 million dollars I can't imagine the WJC thiking they would have a controversy). This is all contained in the very comprehensive WJC report that I read after the link was posted in your site.

JWB, I would recommend that you read it too because it is obvious that you haven't.

At 7:10 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>JWB needs to come current with
>the news. The Swiss paper FACTS
>that published these allegations
>has since retracted and
>published an apology (at least
>that is what a german speaker
>told me it says).

You're welocome to post it here and to request a retraction from the Jewish Week who printed the above information.

As to the rest, you've mistaken my call for an audit based on allegations circulating with a determination (which I have not made) of wrongdoing.

Why are you so afraid of an audit?

At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm... Malcolm Hoenlein was compensated $819,939 in the last 990 filing of the President's Conference for 2003.

No scandal there? What service does the American Jewish Community get for that kind of money.

At 7:29 PM, Blogger Reb Yudel said...

While I have no information about the JTS situation, I do have a bunch of questions posted for those who might have the time or means to investigate.

At 7:59 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>Hmm... Malcolm Hoenlein was
>compensated $819,939 in the last
>990 filing of the President's
>Conference for 2003.

A number of non-profit Jewish organizations have outrageous salaries, most notably the Wiesenthal Center. If the Hier's had a family dog, it would likely also be on salary.

If you want, make a list, post it in the comments and I'll post it. Otherwise, it goes on my to-do-list as it requires considerable

>While I have no information
>about the JTS situation, I do
>have a bunch of questions posted
>for those who might have the
>time or means to investigate.

Very interesting. I'm going to post your questions and whatever I can find over the next little bit. Hopefully, between our readers we can start answering some of these questions.

At 8:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least the Wiesenthal center runs museums and educational programs. What service, aside from being an international travel agent for other wealthy jews, does Mr. Hoenlein perform for the Jewish Community to warrant such an outrageous salary? Aren't you comparing apples and oranges here?

At 8:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In case you haven't noticed Gary Rosenblatt does not print retractions. He does not even print letters to the editor that are critical of him. Gary operates his paper with his own agenda in mind as evidenced by his shameless promotion of his favorite organiztion Edah and their questionable research on the front page of this week's edition. To think that he is interested in honest journalism is an assumption that I am unwilling to make.

At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The truly interesting thing about Hoenlein here is that receives his compensation from the 501c3 arm of the Conference (The President's Conference Charitable Fund)which is the tax deductable fund that is prohibited form political and lobbying activity (the activities that they actually engage in). The Conference itself is a 501c4 which does not post an IRS form 990. That means Hoenlein is essentialy not accountable to the Conference membership for his salary unless, of course, he makes another $800k from the Conference 501c4 corporation.

It is good of the previous post'er to bring this issue in here. The President's Conference is likely the least transparent of any Jewish organization.

At 8:45 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>At least the Wiesenthal center
>runs museums and educational
>programs. What service, aside
>from being an international
>travel agent for other wealthy
>jews, does Mr. Hoenlein perform
>for the Jewish Community to
>warrant such an outrageous
>salary? Aren't you comparing
>apples and oranges here?

Actually, no. Hier also has his wife and two sons on the payroll with very large salaries. That's really bad.

I may agree that Hoenlein salary, as you've reported, is outrageous but so are many others. I'm prepared to post as part of a post about salaries. If you want a seperate post about the President's Conference you need to provide me with more.

>In case you haven't noticed Gary
>Rosenblatt does not print

Of course he does.

I remember in 1998, the Jewish Week stole an article from Yoram Yanover and Larry Yudelson that was posted on their fake Petah Tikvah Times Herald website (the story was also fake). A retraction was printed.

Try getting a retraction/correction at:
Jewish Week (New York)
Postal address : 1501 Broadway, Suite 505
New York, NY 10036
Telephone : (212) 921 - 7822
Fax : (212) 921 - 8420
Editor : Gary Rosenblatt
Website :
Letters Feedback :

>He does not even print letters
>to the editor that are critical
>of him.

Again not true. Read this letter a few weeks ago run in the Jewish Week regarding a story written by Gary Rosenblatt.

Bad Timing
I was extremely disappointed in your choice of running the article on Camp HASC during the week that the Kahn family was sitting shiva (“Camp Torn By Conflict,” Dec. 31).

I value the work that The Jewish Week does in dealing with issues in the Jewish community that many would like to sweep under the rug (e.g., Baruch Lanner). However, the Jewish ideal of compassion as well as basic human decency should have prevented you from causing the family even more pain during what was already a painful week. This important article would have been just as timely the next week or even the next month. I fail to understand the need to publish it when you did.

Phil Russ
Brooklyn, N.Y.

>Gary operates his paper with his
>own agenda in mind as evidenced
>by his shameless promotion of
>his favorite organiztion Edah
>and their questionable research
>on the front page of this week's

The Jewish Press also did an article. I would note, I've heard that Edah was not happy about his linking them to Charles Kushner.

>To think that he is interested
>in honest journalism is an
>assumption that I am unwilling
>to make.

You're certainly prepared to make other assumptions. What's your agenda here? I'm merely calling for an audit.

So far we know:
1) You don't want a WJC audit.
2) You are critical of the JNF and the President's Conference )but not the WJC).
3) You don't like Gary Rosenblatt.

At 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could not care less about Gary Rosenblatt. That is someone else. You should note that the Jewish Press article on Edah was highly critical of the Ukeles study unlike the Jewish Week.

I think that WJC should be run better. However, after many months I have read nothing that would lead me to beleive that there is any smoking gun here. You have yet to point out any wrongdoing by anyone at the WJC. I would be critical of them if warranted. You really should read that report.

However other organizations SHOULD be scrutinized along the same lines. The issues at the President's Conference seem to be far worse than you are willing to admit. Where does all that money come from and how do we justify a financial structure that appears to have been created to enrich one individual?

BTW I point this out because I believe that your blog does a service to the community, not otherwise.

At 9:22 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...


I would note that 8-9 years ago the INTERNAL audit at the JNF also cleared them of wrongdoing. This is about the need for proper oversight and accountability at our organizations. External audits may be useful at times to this end.

>However other organizations
>SHOULD be scrutinized along the
>same lines.


>The issues at the President's
>Conference seem to be far worse
>than you are willing to admit.

I've done no research at this point. I'm not admitting/denying anything. If you want post/link information and I will look into it further.

At 9:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One need only look as far as the Presidents' Conference's own financial filings and their corporate structure to find many questions that warrant whistleblowing.

At 10:43 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

So? What's stopping you? List your questions here.

Also, while people are raising things for me to look at, let me add one regarding the foundation that puts out the Artscroll Talmud:


On Guidestar, tax filings indicate that Mesorah Hertitage Foundation purchases at arms-length from a taxable organization of which two directors are majority shareholders (JWB - isn't that non-arms length?) books specifically adapted, printed and bound for the foundation for program use....In exchange for certain rights, including copyrights of manuscripts, the organization receives good and services from a taxable organization of which two directors are majority shareholders.

Does anyone have any information on this?

I'm very interested in what intellectual properties are being transferred by this non-profit foundation to a for profit entity run by two of its directors and the nature of these transactions.

Any information?

At 6:05 PM, Blogger mordy said...

Fascinating reading a la Luke Ford.

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Sarina said...

I disagree completely. The JNF America has had new leadership under Ronald S. Lauder, the President, and Russell F.Robinson, the CEO, since 1997. JNF America is operated like a business, so much so that its 990 and annual audit and financial reports are posted on its web site. There is also extensive lay governance, budget committee, legal committee, etc that oversee the spending of every dollar to protect the donors. In addition, JNF America has a staff person onthe ground in Israel to watch projects, which must be certified, inspected regularly and signed off on before funds are transferred to JNF Israel. This year, JNF America was approved by the Better Business Bureau for meeting all non profit standards.


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