In past posts, we’ve argued that communal organizations require transparency in order to calm public fears of misdeed. However, we have also noted that public fears can push organizations to act in an overly cautious manner. I suspect that due to the overly suspicious nature of many members of the public, communal organizations harm themselves with transparency. If we truly want transparency we have to create an environment where it is beneficial. In a recent Commentary book review Omri Ceren describes two explanations for the proliferation of conspiracy theories. The first is that they are the result of a lack of facts, a “poor man’s cognitive mapping.” The other is that they are the result of poor judgment. According to the first theory, transparency and the presentation of as complete a set of facts as possible will eliminate conspiracy theories. According to the second, however, no amount of facts will yield universal agreement. “[T]he problem is not a lack of facts per se, but how conspiracy theorists link them together and what narrative they derive from those links.”

Is Transparency Worth It?

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In past posts, we’ve argued that communal organizations require transparency in order to calm public fears of misdeed (link). However, we have also noted that public fears can push organizations to act in an overly cautious manner (link). I suspect that due to the overly suspicious nature of many members of the public, communal organizations harm themselves with transparency. If we truly want transparency we have to create an environment where it is beneficial.

In a recent Commentary book review Omri Ceren describes two explanations for the proliferation of conspiracy theories (link). The first is that they are the result of a lack of facts, a “poor man’s cognitive mapping.” The other is that they are the result of poor judgment. According to the first theory, transparency and the presentation of as complete a set of facts as possible will eliminate conspiracy theories. According to the second, however, no amount of facts will yield universal agreement. “[T]he problem is not a lack of facts per se, but how conspiracy theorists link them together and what narrative they derive from those links.”

The Jewish community has its fair share of cynics and conspiracy theorists. The minority who have unfaithfully served the community befog all professionals with a cloud of distrust. A non-profit professional often faces no-win situations because any path chosen will be uncharitably interpreted, sometimes in outlandish theories of corruption and self-interest. Any decision on hiring or firing, fundraising or fund deployment, organizational goals or policies, will be scrutinized for hypocrisy in a manner that guarantees finding it.

Will full disclosure of the relevant facts — circumstances, views, financial arrangements, etc. — yield good will? While caution and oversight are required, can anyone overcome the cynicism? Even if we invoke the handy 80/20 rule and assume that 80% of the cynics are good, thoughtful people who are acting with caution due to experience, the other 20% (or 5% or whatever it really is) will loudly demur.

The nature of life is to confront complex situations. Even the best people making the best decisions based on all the information available at the time will sometimes face failure that, in retrospect, could have been avoided. A good community professional may find that when most people learn the facts, they will appreciate the thoughtful decisions made even if disagreeing with some of them.

But the most troublesome cynics and conspiracy theorists, the ones who make communal leadership so difficult on a daily basis, will never yield. They lack the tools of judgment to make sense of the facts. No matter how transparent a communal organization will be, it will never satisfy its loudest critics. If so, those organizations need to decide whether transparency is worth it.

We, the reasonable members of the community, bear the task of making transparency not only viable but attractive. We need to reward the behavior we want. If we truly desire to weed out the parasites in our communal organizations, those corrupt or ineffectual leaders who give the rest a bad name, we have to make sure that the good people are safe. We have to drown out the minority of cynics and conspiracy theorists with our voices of reason to protect those who do their best every day to serve our community. Only then will the leaders be capable of providing the transparency that we rightly demand.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

148 comments

  1. If one is asking for charity one should disclose what one is doing-if someone spends his own money or his money that he gave to his private foundation let him do what he wants.

  2. RCA 2009 Convention Resolution: Institutional Transparency

    May 12, 2009 — The financial and ethical scandals that have come to light of late have engendered a great deal of cynicism in the members of the Orthodox Jewish community regarding the religious and communal institutions that serve them.

    Such cynicism erodes the respect due community leaders in light of their prodigious efforts on behalf of their constituents, saps motivation and financial contributions and thereby handicaps new initiatives, and causes young people to become jaded about the possibility of working on behalf of the community.

    In order to regain the confidence of the Jewish community, let it be resolved that all Jewish communal institutions strive to attain levels of transparency regarding financial affairs, regarding the mechanism of leadership succession, and regarding the planning and execution of general business.

    Vehicles for attaining transparency include annual open meetings, featuring complete reports of their activities and financial condition, as well as periodic newsletters detailing current news and goals.

    Through this transparency, our Jewish communal institutions will regain the crucial support and participation of community members, ensuring organizational viability and on-going success.

  3. ” I suspect that due to the overly suspicious nature of many members of the public, communal organizations harm themselves with transparency.”

    Could you give us an example or two?

  4. Completely disagree, R’ Gil. I’ve covered this before, but transparency is absolutely key.

    Moreover, there will always be criticism, but transparency at least lets the organization be forthright in what they are doing and why, even if some will disagree.

    I’d also be curious which communal organizations you suspect have harmed themselves through transparency.

  5. Gil,
    I don’t understand your argument at all. You admit that for the first type of conspiracy theorist transparency help and that for the second it has no effect. You give no evidence that it hurts in any case. Yet you seem to be making an argument against it. What is it? Not that I think you have one here. Transparency is universally considered a core principle of good governance on all levels. If you have a real argument here it should be published not on a blog but in a leading journal of business, politics or public health.
    However, I think that even by your own standards you have failed to provide any argument whatsoever that there is any downside to transparency. At best you have proven that there is a downside to public service. But how is that downside mitigated by _increasing_ the motivation of the first type of conspiracy theorist?

  6. Gil,
    You totally miss the point. Transparency is not an option which Jewish communal organizations can take if the deem it “worth it” it is an absolute obligation. Those who spend community money must be willing to report back to the community on how it was spent. If nothing else it falls under the chiyuv of veheyisem nekiyyim. Even of correct, youor argument is a danerous reflection of feelings of entitlement and ownership on the part of communal organizations and their leadership.

    In either event, there will always be cynics and trouble makers so I guess from your PoV communal organizations should be exempt from oversight.

  7. Hmm I can see this argument. But how does this apply to the sense a lot of people have that a lot of MO rabbinic leaders have a host of opinions they only voice in private?

  8. Gil
    I am glad you quotes rye post-Madoff RCA resolution but doesn’t it’s call contradict your post?

    It is no coincidence that UJA was not stained or hurt by Madoff and other institutions were

    The culture of transparency is so foreign that institutions that have published a few numbers think they are “yotze”

  9. “Will full disclosure of the relevant facts — circumstances, views, financial arrangements, etc. — yield good will? While caution and oversight are required, can anyone overcome the cynicism? Even if we invoke the handy 80/20 rule and assume that 80% of the cynics are good, thoughtful people who are acting with caution due to experience, the other 20% (or 5% or whatever it really is) will loudly demur”

    One has an obligation to satisfy the 80%-not only for pragmatic reasons but running a public organization should not be a private fiefdom one is representing the Kahal-they have a right to know at least historically how the money was spent. Transparency will tend to disinfect.

  10. “Moshe Shoshan on July 20, 2011 at 1:15 am
    Gil,
    You totally miss the point. Transparency is not an option which Jewish communal organizations can take if the deem it “worth it” it is an absolute obligation. Those who spend community money must be willing to report back to the community on how it was spent. If nothing else it falls under the chiyuv of veheyisem nekiyyim. Even of correct, youor argument is a danerous reflection of feelings of entitlement and ownership on the part of communal organizations and their leadership.”

    Agreed

    “MDJ on July 20, 2011 at 1:05 am
    Gil,
    I don’t understand your argument at all. You admit that for the first type of conspiracy theorist transparency help and that for the second it has no effect. You give no evidence that it hurts in any case. Yet you seem to be making an argument against it. What is it? Not that I think you have one here. Transparency is universally considered a core principle of good governance on all levels”

    Agreed

    “the sense a lot of people have that a lot of MO rabbinic leaders have a host of opinions they only voice in private?”

    AGREED!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Wow, that’s twice in one day Mycroft and I have been on the same page! What is the world coming to?

  12. “drown out the minority of cynics”

    It is easy to succesfully drown out cynics-show that they are factually wrong.

  13. For example, Ohel was recently criticized by the Jewish Week on how they handled a case. So they brought in an outside activist who is a lawyer to review the confidential files and then were lambasted and threatened by lawsuits for revealing confidential information.

  14. I don’t understand the attittude of people who say that transparency is an obligation. You aren’t dealing with reality. Currently, pretty much no Jewish org is transparent. We want them to change. If we don’t give them the proper encouragement, they won’t. Speaking in terms of obligations is speaking the wrong language. Their primary job is whatever their org’s mission. We need to convince them that they will help or at least not hurt their mission by being transparent.

    Whoever said that it is easy to silence the cynics by revealing facts did not read this post carefully.

  15. Gil,
    Reality is that _every_ reputable organization, non-profit or otherwise, is transparent. Transparency has nothing to do with revealing confidential information. It has to do with process. When you are transparent, you don’t reveal anything, because it is already visible to everyone. If you think that the Ohel matter was one of transparency at that point, I’m not so sure you understand what transparency is.

  16. Take a look at Tanhuma Pekudei on the issue of transparency. If Moshe Rabbenu had to be transparent, kal va-chomer everyone else.
    http://adderabbi.blogspot.com/2011/03/transparency-as-jewish-value.html

  17. The previous comment is mine.

  18. MDJ: I understand, but in the Jewish community that isn’t the case. We have to convince organizations to change the way they do things because they aren’t going to do it on their own. Why would they take the time and expense to make their lives more difficult? They have enough work to do.

    Ohel was a step in the right direction. They could have just ignored the objections, which would have quickly died down. Instead they tried to address them.

    If you demand everything and criticize anything that is less than perfect, then you also aren’t helping change the situation.

  19. YC: It is no coincidence that UJA was not stained or hurt by Madoff and other institutions were

    Neither were NCYI or the OU.

  20. Sorry, but this is nothing more then an apologetic for doing nothing. That is to be objected to in its right. Your main point translates to the Jewish communal “leadership” being right to do nothing to foster transparency so long as some small group will attack them more for doing so. I am not sure you meant it that way, maybe you are merely setting out a frustration of some in the “leadership” but that is the conclusion you put out there.

    There are other difficulties with this piece but they are quibbles compared to the above. For example, you start with a problem you are not even sure is there (“I suspect”) and then move on to propose that a change in environment is needed to address it. Then, you go on to conflate “suspicion nature,” “public fear of misdeeds” with “conspiracy theories.”

    (And leadership implies leading. With the exception of our shuls, nearly all organizations are non-elected and self-selected. That is not in comport with how we run our political life nor with how some rabbis view the proper way for communal organization (or at least R SRH). People are right to be suspicious not merely because some will inevitably abuse a role for personal gain, nor because good people can disagree about the proper course, but because the community has no oversight or control over the entity and because, at most, entities will subject themselves to oversight by a rabbi who, again, is not elected or put forth to the wider community for acclamation. Some step up and start organizations, earning their leadership by seeing a need unfilled, but most everyone after that in the entity, how have they earned a claim to leadership? To be a leader, generally the community needs to have approved the person for leadership). Most of the people in Jewish communal life are the equivalents of civil servants, which is certainly honorable and earns a claim to resources when done right. But it is not leading. )

  21. gil,

    what type of transparency are you referring to in this post?

    for what’s it worth concerning financial transparency, this was de regieur for 19th c. american jewish organizational life. for my research i’ve seen many thousands of pages of publicly-distributed annual reports issued by these organization beginning in the 1820s onward, as well as many statements in the jewish press, detailing basic financial info. it was a basic tennet of communal life that orgs using communal money should demonstrate that they used those funds judiciously.

  22. GIL:

    btw, if i tell you that i completely disagree with this post will you accuse me of a “lack of deciency”?

  23. Abba: If you misread my words and then call me a hyopcrite, I might.

  24. HAGTBG: I don’t see where you suggest a next step for the community.

  25. Gil,
    The next step is clear, to everyone but you. Communal organizations release financial reports detailing where their money goes and also make sure that their governance structure and decision making methods are clear. It’s really not that hard, and I don’t know why you think it will make anyone’s life more difficult.
    For the members of the community, they stop giving money to those organizations that will not explain where the money is going and how they decided it should go there. Really, under what other circumstance would I give my money to someone else because they said “trust me.”

  26. Interesting, our shul is reviewing its governance (they have a cranky treasurer) and many of the issues cited here ring true. Of course there are areas where the right to know must be balanced by the right to privacy (e.g. local recipients from the Rabbi’s discretionary fund) but imho the clarity of process is key.

    It’s certainly easier to get things done in a dictatorship, but imho vhiyitem nkiyim needs to take first priority.

    KT

  27. I don’t see why transparency is meant to be earned, but not owed. Sure, if we’re talking about strategies to actually get the leadership to give what it owes. But why can’t we say that we are entitled to transparency, whether or not we are cynical?

  28. I’m not entirely sure that being more transparent will reduce conspiracy theories. I think communal organizations, even non-profits, just be transparent as a goal in and of itself, but not to reduce conspiracy theories.

    I think one needs to examine why people believe in conspiracy theories, and I don’t think it’s correlated with lack of information. I think the information is accessible, it’s just dismissed in favor or simpler explanations.

    As an aside, I wonder about any overlap between fundamentalist beliefs and acceptance of conspiracy theories, where the world is not as it seems and alternate explanations based on belief rather than measurable and observable facts are favored.

  29. transparency-does a community have the right to know how much their rabbi is paid?
    KT

  30. Against my better judgment, I will comment on this post despite your apparent belief that I am an incurable cynic and/or conspiracy theorist. (I also note that it is unhelpful to conflate the two).

    “In past posts, we’ve argued that communal organizations require transparency in order to calm public fears of misdeed “
    Well, I would say that transparency is required not (only) for appearances sake, but because, as a governance practice, it produces better outcomes – less wasted money, more clarity on mission, and of course less self-dealing. Note that even if everyone acts in good faith, though (so outright self-dealing is not an issue), transparency has the other benefits listed in terms of helping to guide decisionmaking, plus the benefit of making it less likely the organization will be hijacked by self-dealers in the future.

    “I suspect that due to the overly suspicious nature of many members of the public, communal organizations harm themselves with transparency.”

    As many have noted, this is an empirical claim that does not seem to have much support in the rest of your post (or in my experience of reality). I have personally chosen to give to organization X over organization Y, with similar missions, because X was clearer about where the money actually goes. (And, of course, in cases where both were clear but Y prioritizes worse, in my view, than X.) Is your claim that if X tells you where money goes, and Y just gives a vague description of its mission, Y will actually become relatively _more_ attractive because people will be too critical of X and just assume Y is doing a better job? That seems unlikely, though I guess it is possible.

    “We, the reasonable members of the community, bear the task of making transparency not only viable but attractive. We need to reward the behavior we want. . . . We have to drown out the minority of cynics and conspiracy theorists with our voices of reason to protect those who do their best every day to serve our community. Only then will the leaders be capable of providing the transparency that we rightly demand.

    This I do not understand. At first I thought “rewarding the behavior we want” was rewarding transparency, which probably means voting with charity dollars (or other forms of support?). But then you say that what “the reasonable members of the community” actually need to do is protect the not-yet-transparent leadership of communal organizations by drowning out those who suggest they are committing misdeeds. Well, if (you argue) the major purpose of transparency is to calm public fears of misdeed, then once the bad guys are drowned out why should organizations become transparent? Or do you mean that the “Reasonable” people need to demand transparency, vote with their feet, etc, but need to be willing then to “Drown out” the naysayers who emerge stronger (you claim) precisely because of the demanded disclosure? That’s not exactly the order you put things in (“Only then…”), but it is not bad advice that those who demand transparency should generally take the information for what it is worth, criticize where appropriate, but not forget that (hopefully) the big picture is not one of massive waste, etc. (ie, remember that if the worst thing about your shul’s budget is that they spent an unnecessary $500 on toilet paper when your cousin could have gotten it cheaper, the big picture is actually doing rather well…) Is that your point?

  31. HAGTBG: I don’t see where you suggest a next step for the community.

    You do not have transparency to remove conspiracy theories. You have it to make sure the institution is run according to the standards of its target group. And that means, the entities need to decide whether they are acting for the community or they are for themselves. If an organization wants to claim they stand for the Orthodox community, for instance, then I have no more sympathy for them that they will have to deal with the kooks who are part of the community that they represent then I do that Congressmen have to deal with crazies. And you know, sometimes among those “kooks” are people with compelling alternate visions.

    And this is even more the case for people in so-called leadership roles who are paid. I have a friend on a shul board who works his tuchus off for the community and the other board members treat him like garbage and most of the community barely knows what he is doing for them, to keep the shul running. But he is elected and deals with the grief and he works for zip. People, particularly on the bigger entities like Ohel (who are paid), should also – if they truly feel they are acting on the community’s behalf – open themselves up for public scrutiny. The same for shuls (who more or less do that if you make the effort to go to your membership meetings & your board is half-way decent) and the same for schools.

    People who think they are acting for my well-being but have nothing what to do with me are not my leaders. If they consult rabbis who I do not consider my own rabbis, their relevancy to me does not increase. Frankly, even if they had my posek’s ear my posek is not me. If they close their books and act like small cabals then yes, if I need them I’ll use them but I won’t suffer the illusion that they are in it for me and not for their own pay check.

    So you ask what I think should be done? I say, transparency and deal with the crazies. Where’s people’s pride is concerned, like charity, scholarships allowances should be allowed. Where salary is at issue, I am a little conflicted on that, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t be out there publicly at the end of the day. Every congress person’s salary is as is every staff member who works for them or their committee’s, and if you find out a civil servant’s level of authority you can figure out approximately what they make as well. I don’t think that information being out there has really harmed the government.

  32. Thanks emma. i was about to post something similar.

    i don’t think we need to “drown out” anyone. transparency is demanded by the community (also in certain circumstances by ny law for non profits) and its not something we – the community – need to earn. the benefits are obvious.

    as the song goes ” there are jokers to the left of me and jokers to the right and i am stuck in the middle…” there will be always critics some good and some unfounded. but to tie in conspiracy theorists is to besmirch those that demand transparency from their charities and communal organizations (is smear a better word?).

    ohel maybe not the best example of more transparency worked against it- was it transparent that they as a mandatory reporter actually always follow the law vs their rabbinic authority when there is a conflict? an example of where transparency would be helpful is HASC.

  33. S:

    “I don’t see why transparency is meant to be earned, but not owed. ”

    yes!

    JOEL RICH:

    “transparency-does a community have the right to know how much their rabbi is paid?”

    is it a secret what your mayor makes? or your policeman? etc.
    some people are opposed to transparency for schools because they say that it is an invations of the teachers’ privacy to know how much they make. i don’t understand this. my wife works for the government. if you know her title and how many years she has been working you can easily know down to the penny her salary and benefits.

  34. joel rich:

    the salaries of millions upon millions of americans, including plenty of frum jews (probably even some of your neighbors), is public knowledege. if you’re in a union, its public. if you work for the government its public. etc.

  35. r’ ruvie,
    oh, oh – competition on the lyrical side! I’ll have to stay sharp 🙂

    so what is the common practice as far as shul rabbis salaries – I know locally there is a compensation line in the budget which combines all salaries and great reticence to break it down. the response usually is the sounds of silence 🙂
    KT

  36. MDJ: For the members of the community, they stop giving money to those organizations that will not explain where the money is going and how they decided it should go there.

    I just don’t this happening without a major effort. Most donations are from mega-donors so the actions of the average community member are not particularly influential. And even if they were, there are too many of them who don’t think about these things. What we really need is for mega-donors to demand transparency. But are they interested? Not in my experience.

    S: I don’t see why transparency is meant to be earned, but not owed.

    I agree but try getting some big poskim to insist on it and then maybe some orgs will comply. Until then…

    emma: Well, I would say that transparency is required not (only) for appearances sake, but because, as a governance practice, it produces better outcomes

    That’s a good argument. Is there any data proving it? I’m just not familiar. If so, boards should be demanding this.

    As many have noted, this is an empirical claim that does not seem to have much support in the rest of your post (or in my experience of reality).

    I’ve actually had organizational leaders tell me that they’d rather be opaque because transparency causes them more grief than opacity.

    I have personally chosen to give to organization X over organization Y, with similar missions, because X was clearer about where the money actually goes.

    Has their claim been audited and confirmed? And has your decision made any impact on other organizations’ procedures?

    At first I thought “rewarding the behavior we want” was rewarding transparency, which probably means voting with charity dollars…

    Unfortunately, I don’t think we the general community members really impact the bottom line. That’s all the mega-donors.

  37. In any case, transparency does not demand that individual salaries (that might be confidential) are disclosed: one can bucket all employee salaries, taxes and benefits into one disclosed number. [If there is only a single employee, his remuneration is almost certainly public knowledge in any case.]

  38. “I’ve actually had organizational leaders tell me that they’d rather be opaque because transparency causes them more grief than opacity.”

    I think that is the nub of the issue. A CEO of a Fortune 100 company would tell you the same thing if he knew you well enough. It’s just that certain organizations have the option of being opaque due the current tax laws.

  39. r’ joel,

    most shuls have a line item for all salaries – with some breaking it down to rabbinic salaries. a rabbi’s salary is only one component of his pay package (paying for his apartment/house, food, and other expenses adds up to a decent amount of money).
    i believe shuls legally (nys non profit law) have to show an income statement but not a balance sheet (one does not have to disclose how much cash you really have). i believe that it should be disclosed but as one who was active in a shul did not (previous policy but had no problem ball parking for those that asked).

  40. re: mega-donors, i think we are thinking about different types of organizations. I believe most shuls, even if they have a few large donors, get a lot from the simple folk too (eg, dues!). With a national organization it is likely different. But I don’t understand why the mega donors don’t care. After all, they have many people asking for their money and they choose among them…how?

  41. >>That’s a good argument. Is there any data proving it? I’m just not familiar.
    Well, Gil, that’s the problem. Zil g’mor. There’s a lot out there, and you’re basically shooting from the hip (and missing the target). If you want some information at the political and multinational corporation level, you can go to:
    transparency.org
    Granted, it won’t give you information on communal non-profits, but its a place to start.

  42. MiMedinat HaYam

    gil — “Neither were NCYI or the OU.”

    NCYI doesnt have much a$$ets (except for the property they just sold, but that was subject to certain monetary obligations.)

    the OU ???

    2. i was on the board of a shul once, and we had a pblm that the asst rabbi was earning substantially more than the rabbi (rabbi was elderly (but with it), and would not take extra $ (over his salary 20 yrs ago.) we had certain board members who would pay for certain expenses on his behalf to overcome. somewhat.)

    3. nevertheless, evaluating a sr exec officer’s salary is a function of how much fundra$ing he makes, meaning other figures must be made public, together with his salary.

    4. the practice of whitewashing grants, etc from one org to another also comes into play.

  43. I agree with the arguments for greater transparacy with one exception: salaries. They really are private, especially in a small community. Sure, we all know what our Congressperson and mayor make, but how often do we eat with them or deal with them on a daily basis? My rabbi doesn’t know what I make, why should I know exactly what he makes? (In fact, while my shul lumps his salary with other on the annual financial statement, when his contract was renewed, the detailed salary information was provided to everyone attending the annual membership meeting.) And yes, while my boss knows what I make, almost no one else in my organization does, so why should EVERYONE know what the rabbi makes. Also, if the information is given to the membership, it’s then available to the entire community as well. ISTM that that’w where a board or a select committee come into play. The membership might want to ensure that the group that negotiates/knows the details of the rabbis salary is not composed solely of close friends of teh rabbi, but that could be handled easily. My shul gives out a detailed financial statement once a year and answers questions about it and i think that’s pretty transparant. Neither I nor anyone else other that those with a need to know really should know exactly what the rabbi earns.

    As for schools. Again, to balance privacy and transparacy, ranges sjould be given: e.g., teachers’ salaries range from X to Y, senior administrators from A to B, administrative staff from G to H. There’s no need for me, a parent of a student, to know exactly what my child’s sixth grade teacher earns. That doesn’t make the school more transparant.

  44. And yes, while my boss knows what I make, almost no one else in my organization does, so why should EVERYONE know what the rabbi makes.

    The argument would be the rabbi works for the membership as you work for your boss and as a congressman works for the people of his district.

  45. It seems to me that, for a charitable organization, there are two reasons for transparency. One is moral–that the public should know that the funds are being spent on the mission for which they are being raised and used efficiently. The Midrash from pekudei seems absolutely dispositive on this being in accord with the Torah. The second is practical and applies to all sorts of organizations. That is that the more people who see what is going on, the more likely it is someone will catch a problem while it is still minor. Of course, for this to be of value the organization must be willing to respond constructively rather than defensively. And yes, it helps if the criticism is phrased in a constructive way rather than as an attack. But the purpose of transparency is not to avoid criticism, so that is not the standard by which it should be judged. And the transition from an opaque system to a transparent system can be painful if the latter has allowed problems to fester.

  46. Regarding teacher salaries, it seems to me the biggest beneficiaries of disclosure would be the teachers who may be making less than others similarly situated in the same school.

    I do get why one would not want her name and salary published right next to each other for all to see. Recall that even those of us whose pay is “public” (as mine is) rarely see “emma: $x,000” on a published document. Rather, it would be “nth year X title: $Y” and someone who wants to find out how the formula applies to me can – but most people I actually interact with (other than coworkers) just have a general sense of the ballpark.

    I think that publishing a range (or salary scale, if such a thing exists) is probably the best path. Ideally, it would be broken down somewhat (eg, range for elementary vs h.s., range for teachers with/without certain degrees, range for teacehrs with N years experience, etc – depending on the size of the school these may be less anonymous than they appear). Or at least not just a range, but a distribution, such as range, mean, and median.

  47. Regarding whether transparency promotes better governance, I took it as a truism because it has become a standard line-item in the various metrics of asessing nonprofits I have seen. Maybe, you will argue, that’s just because it makes the evaluators’ jobs easier, rather than for any virtue of its own. I am not an expert on this, but I think there are independent benefits, and I suspect that if you talk to someone who is an expert (or spend more time on google or google schoalr than I have right now) you will confirm that. In a slightly different context: http://www.gsdrc.org/go/display&type=Document&id=3703. Regardless of the merits of that particular study or its direct relevance, the point is that people are studying this, but your post seems to rely solely on anecdotes and personal impressions.

  48. Drawing inspiration from Magritte today? Mordechai Torczyner’s cousin wrote the book about his work.

  49. MiMedinat HaYam

    emma — actually, there is a listing of your salary, by actual name and salary, voted on by the city council in nyc. even for teachers.

    j kaplan — my congressman (whom i loath) has several other outside incomes. rabbis, if they have an outside income, would show how little they make in their shul. (that would be an embarrasment to the shul, not an issue of transparency.) now, how much they make in teaching, or their independent kashrut businesses, or from funerals and weddings (etc) would not show up. (unless the rav runs the checks through a shul account, if its written out to the shul.) ditto the rav’s private real estate business, legal practice, etc.

    2. i forbid my employees from discussing their salaries with other employees (i know, violates federal labor laws.)

  50. 1. Transparency doesn’t mean violating confidentiality. There’s a shvil ha-zahav. Somewhere between complete opaqueness [“trust us…we know what’s best for everyone. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else”], and complete transparency with full disclosure of every personnel issues and performance evaluation and the medical records of all employees.

    2. I don’t think elected officials work for their constituents. They REPRESENT their constituents, but are employed by the government. The constituents can decide if a person is elected or not, but once elected, don’t have much say. And his paycheque isn’t signed by the constituents, even though they pay taxes.

    3. In Ontario, there is a Public Sector Salary Disclosure law http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/publications/salarydisclosure/2011/ — all salaries of gov’t employees are public knowledge if they are above 100k. This was originally meant to add transparency and accountability, and ultimately to keep salaries in check since now gov’t agencies would have to account for the salaries.
    However, ironically the complete opposite has happened and the disclosures have increased salaries dramatically because now everybody in a department knows everybody else’s salary, and so too work of equal value across departments, and this is driving up wage demands in order to successfully compete with colleagues. Nobody is saying “I should earn less to be on par with Mr. X in Dept. A”, they are saying “I should earn more to be on par with Mr. Y in Dept. B”.

  51. R Gil wrote, among other things:

    “But the most troublesome cynics and conspiracy theorists, the ones who make communal leadership so difficult on a daily basis, will never yield. They lack the tools of judgment to make sense of the facts. No matter how transparent a communal organization will be, it will never satisfy its loudest critics. If so, those organizations need to decide whether transparency is worth it”

    Permit me to sound a dissenting POV, and my agreement with the above quoted language. I am uncomfortable with conspiracy theorists and worse insisting that because Jewish communal life and organizations have not been subject to Wikileaks or the equivalent, and thereby been rendered a thumbs up and down depending on our hashkafic or other biases, the same are inherently suspect with respect to their trustworthiness by the Jewish public. I have posted before this and WADR, do not perceive of such organizations as public, but rather voluntary and merely representing a constituency that supports their expressed goals and policies.

    Such logic strikes me IMO, as anarchistic, conspiratorial, and exemplifying the worst of McCarthyism and a post Watergate assumption that all information which was hitherto private and confidential for very good reasons, has to be divulged, and made cannon fodder for those whose interests are not in the best interests of either the subject organization, let alone the work performed for the Jewish community by the same, and its leadership.

    Whatever happened to the notion of being Choshed BKesherim, especially in the absence of proof of massive wrongdoing? I remain convinced that unless one is active, both in terms of time and money, that the average person who claims otherwise simply because he or she is dissatified with an organization’s policies should get involved and seek change from the inside, instead of claiming from the outside that he or she is somehow magically entitled to know about salaries,etc.OTOH, if you think that “transparency” will enable you to make a more informed decision about a particular Mossad, or its hashkafa, then feel free to toss into the circular file any request for Tzedaka that doesn;t meet your needs either re “transparency” or hashkafa.

  52. or from funerals and weddings (etc)
    =========================================
    is this taxable income (I would’ve assumed so)?
    KT

  53. “emma — actually, there is a listing of your salary, by actual name and salary, voted on by the city council in nyc. even for teachers.”

    I (obv.) had no idea… Still, that being available somewhere obscure strikes me as less invasive than the likely degree to which a taecher’s salary would be widely known if released. In general, though, I think the “embarassment” factor would be significantly decreased if schools were following some sort of regularized scale like govt employers do. There is not much embrassing about people knowing you make X if that’s basically exactly what everyone similarly situated to you makes. There is something more personal if everyone has an individual “deal” with the school, etc…
    Also schools might have to disclose how much of their compensation is in tuition (which is, technically, supposed to be a perk in addition to a market-level salary rather than part of the salary)…

    (Also, to be clear, I am not a teacher or govt emplyee. Salaries in my industry/firm are public – by which i mean on the internet – for other reasons.)

  54. Steve, people are suspicious because most who have been involved in organizations in the intimate way you suggest have seen something go wrong at least once. I am fairly familiar with the inner workings of two shuls. In one, I would say everyone is a good faith player, but there are still some things that are not done completely on the up-and-up due to historical mistakes and delicate personal situations. In the other _almost_ everyone was on the up-and-up, but there was definitely also some shady business (people with access to shul accounts using the shul as a tax shelter for their personal businesses, say) that went uncorrected for many reasons. My point is that I, and I am sure many others, have seen how easily things can go off – easily enough that we unfortunately cannot assume that it does not happen (even if we do not assume that any specific individual is doing wrong). Having structures in place to make such deviations more difficult is not “mccarthyism,” it is just good governance.

  55. They REPRESENT their constituents, but are employed by the government.

    All incorporated bodies, the government included, is a legal fiction. The question is who is the entity meant to benefit; who do they owe a duty to. Corporations are a fancy form of ownership by the stockholders with legal bells and whistles. Government here is by the people.

  56. MDJ: Well, Gil, that’s the problem. Zil g’mor. There’s a lot out there, and you’re basically shooting from the hip (and missing the target).

    That’s helpful but it fails to answer my question implied at the end of my statement: Why aren’t boards insisting on more transparency if it will improve results? They are the ones who can make it happen.

    Re rabbis: Just about everyone in my shul knows the rabbi’s salary and we’re pretty embarrassed by how small it is.

    Thanbo: I have no idea what you’re talking about. I know R. Torczyner but nothing else you mentioned.

  57. “Why aren’t boards insisting on more transparency if it will improve results? They are the ones who can make it happen.”

    Ignorance about good governance in some cases; and fear in many others. Moving from opacity to tranparency is hard and will almost certainly uncover some historical things people would rather keep swept under the rug.

    The elephant in the room is the opacity of Jewish non-profits who derive potentially significant portion of their operating income not from donors (mega or hoi polloi) or members, but from the external sale of services. Moving to transparency in such organizations could be fraught with issues; but, the transparency will come sooner or later, controlled or not.

  58. Emma wrote:

    “people are suspicious because most who have been involved in organizations in the intimate way you suggest have seen something go wrong at least once. I am fairly familiar with the inner workings of two shuls. In one, I would say everyone is a good faith player, but there are still some things that are not done completely on the up-and-up due to historical mistakes and delicate personal situations. In the other _almost_ everyone was on the up-and-up, but there was definitely also some shady business (people with access to shul accounts using the shul as a tax shelter for their personal businesses, say) that went uncorrected for many reasons. My point is that I, and I am sure many others, have seen how easily things can go off – easily enough that we unfortunately cannot assume that it does not happen (even if we do not assume that any specific individual is doing wrong). Having structures in place to make such deviations more difficult is not “mccarthyism,” it is just good governance”

    The two instances that you cited do not strike me IMO as evidence of rampant corruption or worse. Moreover, merely having a structure in place does not necessarily encourage compliance, but rather creative thinking how the same can be bent while one is “technically” in compliance therewith.

  59. IH commented :

    “Ignorance about good governance in some cases; and fear in many others. Moving from opacity to tranparency is hard and will almost certainly uncover some historical things people would rather keep swept under the rug”

    That IMO is anarchistic, McCarthyite, post Watergate Wikileaks logic at work. Noone has an absolute right to know everthing about every organization-even if he or she is someone who spends time and money. I reject the notion that communal organizations should be subjected to the same labyrynth of statutes, regulations and worse merely to satisfy such a POV. In the absence of evidence of wrongdoing on a massive level, IMO, transparency is essentially a tool for conspiracy theorists. Why not leave such issues to historians, sociologists, etc as opposed to allowing every amateur in the world to voice an uninformed opinion?

  60. FWIW, I think that “transparency”, strictly from a political POV, is an example of a tactic that somehow strikes me as yet dependent on who is clamoring loudest for the same. It is almost akin to the clamor for special prosecutors and committees issuing subpoenas for no reason except to hinder the subject of the same-whether the clamor is by a Democrat or Republican. I am no fan of what the Murdoch owned media purportedly perpetrated in the UK media, but it strikes me as more than ironic that the NY Times, which is Murdoch’s biggest rival, both economically and politically, and which only divulged state secrets based on Wikileaks and NSA intercepts, is providing page one coverage and op ed columns on an almost daily basis.

  61. steve b – i guess you are an anarchist at heart. you do not need “evidence of wrongdoing” to justify transparency. i would think that organizations with high a degree of transparency and good governance have less corruption and wrongdoing.

    emma is also right with regard to shuls and transparency. it is very easy to run money through these entities as charitable donations for questionable items. well intentioned people included.

  62. steve b. – i guess illegally hacking people’s phones and bribing and threatening police and politicians is no biggie for you. or better yet, do you approve of fox’s coverage of this news – fair and balanced?

  63. The lack of transparency is one reason why I don’t like Dor Yesharim. What labs do the tests? How do we know reliable scientific people are performing and interpreting the results?

  64. I received the following e-mail from one of the Baker Street Irregulars:

    “The OU is one organzation where more transparency is certainly called for. Several weeks ago Hirhurim’s News and Links linked to an OU press release, about the OU opposing a congressional proposal to cap tax deductibility on charitable organizations. The OU was proud to report that it had lobbied Congress on this matter. The OU was thus using its political capital on an issue that is far removed from the OU’s stated goals of strengthening Orthodoxy and supporting Israel. This lobbying behavior was so far removed from the OU’s stated goals, that one can say that the OU has gone off-target, it has gone OTD.

    So, on a public (parhesia) matter, the OU has gone OTD. Kal v’chomer, we must be concerned with what the OU may be doing outside public scrutiny (b’chadrei chadarim). If it is spending its political capital inappropriately, we must be concerned how it is spending its financial capital.

    To quote Justice Brandeis, sunshine is the best disinfectant

  65. Re clergy taxation

    All payments received directly by a minister from the employing church or for performing public services such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, masses, etc., are generally included in gross income and are subject to income tax and self-employment tax (employee and employer portions of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act and Medicare).

    from

    http://www.nysscpa.org/trustedprof/407a/tp11.htm

  66. MiMedinat HaYam

    emma — i assumed you are a nyc teacher. sorry. but these internet salary web sites are pretty much off the mark. except i guess in your case. beni’s are also not clear.

    i was also involved with two shuls — one run by a “benevolent dictator” who i am 100% sure ran the shul properly, etc. (even thiough you couldnt eat in his store.)

    the other, i recall, took the concert receipts (cash) and arranged for us to get checks that he claimed exceeded the take from parties who wanted tax deductions. we had to trust him on this one.

    dna — are you insinuating doctors arent ethical? (i agree with you — yes). ditto the bone marrow project (even worse, they actually have your dna sample. i’m sorry i gave them a cheek swab) though i guess its not a jewish non profit anymore. (i think they started that way.)
    ditto these fundraisings for rubashkin, etc. where an early fundraiser specifically said “we cant guarantee the $ will go to the rubashkin case, cause of tax reasons. but we have other (worthy) causes.” and how much of these vaad harabonim, kol ha’ir etc causes. of course, they are beyond the scope of this post, since they are charedi. though they market among MO too. (r”l among christians.)

    joel — of course its taxable. but its not on the shul’s w-2 (or 1099, more probable) since if the check is in the rabbi’s name (or cash) its not subject to the shuls 1099 (but sched a income, i assume) unless the rabbi runs it thorough his discretionary acct. (i believe r torczyner once posted that he runs all of these issues through his discretionary account, and uses the funds for worthy causes, as opposed to his income. but that is the rabbi’s decision — to use the $ for his personal use, or for worthy causes.)

  67. “joel rich on July 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm
    or from funerals and weddings (etc)
    =========================================
    is this taxable income (I would’ve assumed so)?
    KT”

    Yes
    see my 727 pm post-forgot to copy Joels comment first.

  68. “(i believe r torczyner once posted that he runs all of these issues through his discretionary account, and uses the funds for worthy causes, as opposed to his income. but that is the rabbi’s decision — to use the $ for his personal use, or for worthy causes.)”

    Which BTW could make the income taxable to the Rabbi-he had use of it. If the Rabbi doesn’t want to accept money he should flatly refuse to accept the money-and if the giver would insist on charity tell the giver give money directly to a charity-then of course the giver could then receive a charitable deduction which he couldn’t for a gift to an individual.

  69. MiMedinat HaYam

    mycroft — if its run through the shul’s account, it may be subject to fica / witholding. i would rather report it on the rabbi’s sched a, and have the rabbi pay the taxes. the shul would issue a 1099 on that (or w-2 with tip income, though tip would invite an audit.)

    of course, i would prefer the rabbi not run it through the shul’s acct, but sometimes you have to. it messes up transparency, anyhow.

  70. MiMedinat HaYam

    mycroft — if its taxable, its offset by the deduction. (usually)

    he’s in canada now. diff tax laws there. i think.

  71. “A good community professional may find that when most people learn the facts, they will appreciate the thoughtful decisions made even if disagreeing with some of them”

    Agreed-people can make mistakes no problem.

  72. “MiMedinat HaYam on July 20, 2011 at 7:37 pm
    mycroft — if its taxable, its offset by the deduction. (usually)”

    Agreed-assuming his discretionary fund is really part of the schul-and ultimately controlled by the schul.

  73. “MiMedinat HaYam on July 20, 2011 at 7:37 pm
    mycroft — if its taxable, its offset by the deduction. (usually)

    he’s in canada now. diff tax laws there. i think.”

    Every country has different tax laws but they follow similar patterns-Canada is probably in general the closest to US in tax law.
    SEE the following fragments from
    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eotopicc01.pdf

    “Notice 99-47: Qualifications for Automatic Recognition Exemption of Canadian Charities
    As described in the Notice, the Service will automatically recognize a Canadian charity as exempt from U.S. income tax if the following requirements are satisfied:

    the organization is organized under the laws of Canada;

    the organization is a religious, scientific, literary, educational or charitable organization;

    the organization has been recognized by Canada as a registered Canadian charity.
    Similarly, Canada will automatically recognize the tax-exempt status of a U.S. charity if:

    the organization is organized under laws of the United States;
    39
    Exemption of Canadian Charities Under the United States-Canada Income Tax Treaty

    the organization is a religious, scientific, literary, educational or charitable organization;

    the organization has been recognized by the Service as exempt under IRC 501(c)(3).
    Once a Canadian registered charity is recognized as exempt, the recognition of exemption remains in effect until Canada withdraws its registration or the Service determines that that Canadian registered charity fails to satisfy the requirements for exempt status under IRC 501(c)(3) and the rules and regulations thereunder”

    but note limitation

    “Limited Deductibility of Contributions Under the Treaty and Notice
    Contributions made by a U.S. citizen or resident to a Canadian registered charity are treated as charitable contributions for purposes of IRC 170(c). See Article XXI, paragraph 5 and Notice 99-47. However, the charitable tax deduction is subject to two restrictions. First, a U.S. donor may use the deduction only against its Canadian source income. Second, the deduction is subject to the percentage limitations described in IRC 170(b).”

  74. For readers of Hirhurim one of the other 2 examples to general non deductibility of foreign charitiesmay be more crucial to them
    Note limitation of requirement to have income from the foreign source eg Israel to partake of this exception
    fromMexican charities.(p3)

    see
    http://taxmap.ntis.gov/taxmap/pubs/p526-000.htm

    To deduct your contribution to a Mexican charity, you must have income from sources in Mexico. The limits described in Limits on Deductions, later, apply and are figured using your income from Mexican sources. Those limits also apply to all your charitable contributions, as described in that discussion.
    taxmap/pubs/p526-000.htm#en_us_publink1000229648

    Israeli charities.(p3)

    You may be able to deduct contributions to certain Israeli charitable organizations under an income tax treaty with Israel. To qualify for the deduction, your contribution must be made to an organization created and recognized as a charitable organization under the laws of Israel. The deduction will be allowed in the amount that would be allowed if the organization was created under the laws of the United States, but is limited to 25% of your adjusted gross income from Israeli sources

  75. Gil — to the extent the leaders with which you’ve discussed this issue are RCA members, do they believe they — and the organizations for which they are leaders — are exempt from the RCA 2009 Convention Resolution on Institutional Transparency? Or, perhaps, the resolution has since been superseded by the RCA?

  76. ” Several weeks ago Hirhurim’s News and Links linked to an OU press release, about the OU opposing a congressional proposal to cap tax deductibility on charitable organizations.”

    While the OU could do with more transparency in many areas, this is a terrible example. Not transparent? The OU issued a press release telling you what they did. The fact you don’t like what they did (as you told us in comments an earlier post) and that you don’t think it’s in their mission statement (which is debatable) have nothing to do with transparency.

  77. “All payments received directly by a minister from the employing church or for performing public services such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, masses, etc., are generally included in gross income and are subject to income tax and self-employment tax (employee and employer portions of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act and Medicare).”

    you’re right, that’s the law. And you know that rabbis don’t follow the law? What do you want the rabbis to do? Make their tax returns public like the president?

  78. One problem I ‘ve noticed is an excessive deferral to Rabbis, not in terms of halachic decisions, which is appropriate but in terms of everything a Rabbi does- no one on a Board feels they can say anything to a Rabbi. Its essentially the daas torah idea applied to organizations. Everyone sees and knows about a problem or waste, but since trying to fix the problem would involve confronting a Rabbi, people are unwilling to do so due to Koved ha Rav- respect for the Rabbi.

  79. re: why are boards not pushing for transparency, again i think it depends on the organization. I mean, why were boards pre-madoff not pushing for better financial governance? It’s not that there was some secret they didn’t know about good governance in that area, it’s just that they were lax. or lazy. or they had relationships, or such. again there is a big org/small org difference. the board of a small org like a shul is often made up of the same people who will have to do the extra work to be transparent, for starters…

  80. “A good community professional may find that when most people learn the facts, they will appreciate the thoughtful decisions made ”

    Assuming of course, the decision was made for community benefit-not the benefit of the institution or the institutions machers or executives.

  81. “Joseph Kaplan on July 20, 2011 at 10:08 pm
    “All payments received directly by a minister from the employing church or for performing public services such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, masses, etc., are generally included in gross income and are subject to income tax and self-employment tax (employee and employer portions of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act and Medicare).”

    you’re right, that’s the law. And you know that rabbis don’t follow the law? What do you want the rabbis to do? Make their tax returns public like the president?”

    I simply quoted an article stating what the law-I never made any comments on what individual Rabbis do-
    Re returns public-there were times in history when income tax returns were made public-obviously current uS law treats tax return info as sacrosanct-but i believe some countries do as a way to keep returns honest.
    Property tax info is available on line..

  82. “BobF on July 20, 2011 at 10:45 pm
    One problem I ‘ve noticed is an excessive deferral to Rabbis, not in terms of halachic decisions, which is appropriate but in terms of everything a Rabbi does- no one on a Board feels they can say anything to a Rabbi. Its essentially the daas torah idea applied to organizations. Everyone sees and knows about a problem or waste, but since trying to fix the problem would involve confronting a Rabbi, people are unwilling to do so due to Koved ha Rav- respect for the Rabbi”
    Suspect different reason for most people what happens in a non profit is of minor importance-if a schul even is defrauded of hal a million a rare event-it may cost them personally a rough days decrease of their investments tied to the market 401ks etc. But a Rabbi can cause a “troublemaker” a lot of harm-harm their shidduch possibilities-rule against them on issues etc-on a personal matter it just doesn’t pay to confront the Rabbi. Rabbis aren’t told the truth by hardly anyone-rarely will someone tell them they spoke too long, short etc-they need an honest wife to tell them the truth.

  83. “, it’s just that they were lax. or lazy. or they had relationships, or such. again there is a big org/small org difference. the board of a small org like a shul is often made up of the same people who will have to do the extra work to be transparent, for starters…”

    Iti sn ot the extra work-there are times when accountants haveoffered to publish statements of a schuls finances and expenditures for free and were refused.

  84. But a Rabbi can cause a “troublemaker” a lot of harm-harm their shidduch possibilities-rule against them on issues etc-on a personal matter it just doesn’t pay to confront the Rabbi. Rabbis aren’t told the truth by hardly anyone-rarely will someone tell them they spoke too long, short etc-they need an honest wife to tell them the truth.
    =================================================
    which can be somewhat true in other areas of life as well, but here it’s a huge deal. I’ve suggested a “mentoring/ombudsmen/whatever” role be established to give this type of input (of course it would require some real work to get facts rather than just the squeaky wheel)

    No takers yet 🙂
    KT

  85. Gee, and I thought that was part of the role of the Shul (lay) President and Board 🙂

  86. responsibility diffused is responsibility disappeared.
    KT

  87. r’ joel – rabbis are human like the rest of us. the role you described doesn’t need to be established. the rabbi needs to seek out an elder statesman (respected by all) of the shul (sometimes a former officer) to have a sounding board on issues (feedback is critical) as well as honesty and bluntness going in both ways. this is rabbinics 101. lastly, rabbis need to occasionally vent and its unwise to do that with the president of shul.

  88. I am told, the UJA-Federation of NY runs a program called SYNERGY that among other things helps synagogues with Board Development and Governance (http://www.ujafedny.org/synergy/).

    There is also a published workbook called “Byachad: Synagogue Board Development” available from The Alban Institute and developed in conjunction with the UJA program above (as I understand).

  89. R’ Ruvie,
    Lots of people don’t really want to hear about there areas for improvement.
    KT

  90. r’ joel – true. but there are consequences. no?

    “Maybe self-improvement isn’t the answer…. Maybe self-destruction is the answer. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club”

  91. “They lack the tools of judgment to make sense of the facts.”

    An easy canard to make fun of those who don’t accept establishment pr. If the critics are wrong transparency should prove them wrong to the general public.

  92. joel rich on July 21, 2011 at 9:20 am
    But a Rabbi can cause a “troublemaker” a lot of harm-harm their shidduch possibilities-rule against them on issues etc-on a “personal matter it just doesn’t pay to confront the Rabbi. Rabbis aren’t told the truth by hardly anyone-rarely will someone tell them they spoke too long, short etc-they need an honest wife to tell them the truth.
    =================================================
    which can be somewhat true in other areas of life as well, but here it’s a huge deal”

    It can be true in other areas of wife but the risk reward for the baal baas is just not there. The benefit to him personally of helpingthe Rabbi correct his mistakes is minimal comparedto the harm the Rabbi can cause him and his family.

  93. It can be true in other areas of wife but the risk reward for the baal baas is just not there

    obviously I should have written

    It can be true in other areas of life but the risk reward for the baal baas is just not there

  94. I fully recognize that my shul rabbi has the power to make my life in the shul quite unpleasant, but I really don’t ascribe to him power to “harm” me in other areas. Strange to me that others do. (Perhaps I am still too young, or perhaps (likely) it’s only some rabbis who can/will do things like that…)

  95. “the ones who make communal leadership so difficult on a daily basis, ”

    Is there a shortage of people looking for those jobs?

  96. I wonder how many of you feel that your pulpit rabbi is unapproachable about criticism? Is there ever any opposition in your Shuls to his suggestions or iniatiatives -any discussions of pros and cons as well as costs? Do you live in tyranny? I am perplexed. I can’t imagine a rabbi hurting a shidduch for petty things unless it’s malicious. Then again, we do live in a all boys club where they know each other from pulpit to camps to yeshiva’ s in israel as well as your local day and high schools.

  97. “emma on July 21, 2011 at 5:29 pm
    I fully recognize that my shul rabbi has the power to make my life in the shul quite unpleasant, but I really don’t ascribe to him power to “harm” me in other areas.”

    A Rabbi has power to do that-but it doesn’t mean that all would-there are some ethical Rabbis-not everyone will act in a profit maximizing behavior.

    “Strange to me that others do. (Perhaps I am still too young, or perhaps (likely)”

    When one is young one tends to see things through rose colored glasses

    “it’s only some rabbis who can/will do things like that…)”
    Agreed not all Rabbis will do things like that.

  98. “A Rabbi has power to do that-but it doesn’t mean that all would-there are some ethical Rabbis-not everyone will act in a profit maximizing behavior.”

    Typical snide cynical nasty comment — and FALSE! As if most rabbis are not ethicAL. I would say that it’s unfortunate that you have had such bad experiences but I fear the fault is in you and not the unfortunate rabbis who have to deal with you.

  99. >>Why aren’t boards insisting on more transparency if it will improve results?

    Among other reasons, because there is a conflict of interest here. The problems caused by lack of transparency are usually benefits to some board members. This is in addition to the reasons raised by others above.

  100. emma – Presumably the degree to which a rabbi has the ability to make one’s life difficult outside of shul depends on the type of community in which they live – for a Belzer chassid it may be extremely significant, while less for for a LWMO living in Riverdale.

  101. Transparency is important for all decisions even for those done in good faith-transparency also will make it tougher to engage in defalcation. Sadly-it can occur even in the most holy of institutions-even if the Orthodox Jewish media ignores it.

  102. Ruvie wrote:

    “steve b. – i guess illegally hacking people’s phones and bribing and threatening police and politicians is no biggie for you. or better yet, do you approve of fox’s coverage of this news – fair and balanced?”

    I don’t approve of hacking phones-but I also don’t approve of endangering national security by publishing NSA transcripts or documents leaked illegally by Wikileaks. As for Fox, I don’t agree with everything on it, but I find its coverage a welcome change from the liberal left dominated coverage served up by the NY Times. W Post, the networks, PBS and NPR.

  103. Mycroft wrote:

    “So, on a public (parhesia) matter, the OU has gone OTD. Kal v’chomer, we must be concerned with what the OU may be doing outside public scrutiny (b’chadrei chadarim). If it is spending its political capital inappropriately, we must be concerned how it is spending its financial capital”

    WADR, that simply is stating that I ,regardless of what my own contribution in time or money is to an organization, even if I give zero of either, I am “entitled” to see where its money is going, especially if I disagree with its priorities and public statements. That is exactly IMO what I meant by conspiratorial, McCarthyite logic at work.

  104. Mycroft linked us to this quote:

    “The OU was thus using its political capital on an issue that is far removed from the OU’s stated goals of strengthening Orthodoxy and supporting Israel. This lobbying behavior was so far removed from the OU’s stated goals, that one can say that the OU has gone off-target, it has gone OTD”

    WADR, how and why? Support of Israel and strengthening Orthodoxy, whether via Kashrus, Kiruv/Chizuk in NCSY or enhancing Orthodox life, depends heavily on not just pushkes and small checks, but on donors willing to give major donations that are permissible under the tax laws. We tend to forget that in the aftermath of the Sinai Campaign, President Eisenhowe threatened to strip UJA of its tax exemption as a means of forcing an Israeli withdrawal. IMO, the tax exemption at issue is one of the main vehicles and means that religious groups in general can express their views without fear of poltical or R”L repercussions.

  105. “Steve Brizel on July 22, 2011 at 2:38 pm
    Mycroft wrote:

    “So, on a public (parhesia) matter, the OU has gone OTD. Kal v’chomer, we must be concerned with what the OU may be doing outside public scrutiny (b’chadrei chadarim). If it is spending its political capital inappropriately, we must be concerned how it is spending its financial capital””

    When I quote something as from the Baker Street Irregulars-I do not claim to be my words but feel are worth forwarding.

    “Support of Israel and strengthening Orthodoxy, whether via Kashrus, Kiruv/Chizuk in NCSY or enhancing Orthodox life, depends heavily on not just pushkes and small checks,”
    Is that true wo disclosed financials I have no idea of acceptingthat it is just as likely that “profits” from OU kosher are the main source of income for those activities.

    “but on donors willing to give major donations that are permissible under the tax laws.”

    So donors woulkd stop giving because it costs them 100 for a 100 dollar donation vs 60 or so dollars?
    Did it stop them when tax rates went down from 70-to below 40 and savings from deductions went down immensely.
    Do people not give charity where no tax deduction is permitted-most of country gets no tax benefit from charity-.

  106. “WADR, that simply is stating that I ,regardless of what my own contribution in time or money is to an organization, even if I give zero of either, I am “entitled” to see where its money is going, especially if I disagree with its priorities and public statements.”
    Maybe logic of 990s is you want everyone to pay for your activities by contributions being tax deductible you have to disclose how finances are done. Certainly organizations that claim to represent Orthodoxy have to make their decision making at least after the fact public. For better or worse the OU is not claiming to represent the opinions of its officers and executives -it claims to represent Orthodoxy and its constituent membership. Thus a responsibility not to act as a private club. I believe my schul belongs to the OU and although the OU is not my favorite charity I believe most years and including currently I have paid membership for what its worth to the OU. Wht not in Jewish action annually put out the previous years actual information.


  107. Mission

    The mission of the Orthodox Union is to advance, strengthen, and lead the Orthodox Jewish Community, and inspire the greater Jewish community.

    Vision

    The Orthodox Union seeks to nurture thinking, knowledgeable, impassioned Jews, and empower institutions which serve the spiritual, educational and social needs of the Jewish community.

    Strategies

    To fulfill this mission, the Orthodox Union:

    Promotes and supports an infrastructure that enables Orthodox Jews to lead “full” Orthodox lives;
    Sponsors programs and initiatives that inspire and empower Jewish adolescents;
    Convenes community leaders and institutions to identify needs and pursue strategies to address them; and
    Protects the interests and promotes the values of the Orthodox Jewish community in the “public square.” ”

    The above is from OU website- how does either statement discussed below involve issues concerning tha above mission etc

    “We live in the United States, we haven’t served in the army, we don’t pay taxes [in Israel], so it would be inappropriate for us to publicly, in some fashion, criticize Israel on what they do to protect themselves.”… Katz explained that while he personally fully supports the law the Orthodox Union did not take an official position, as “generally we are supportive of what the Israeli government in power does.”

    and

    “In October 2007 the OU published an open letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressing its “deepest concern” over statements by Israeli cabinet ministers according to which, as part of an agreement with the Palestinians, Israel would be “prepared to divide the holy city of Yerushalayim and cede portions of it to the Palestinian Authority.” In the case of Jerusalem it seems that Jews don’t need to live in Israel, pay taxes or serve in the IDF.

    “The Orthodox Union is mandated to undertake all efforts that are necessary to secure and maintain Yerushalayim as the eternal and undivided capital of the State of Israel” and therefore a democratically elected government in Israel cannot decide otherwise. “The Government and people of the State of Israel hold Yerushalayim in trust for the Jewish People no matter where they may live, for we all have a share in the holy city.” ”

    Both the above are fragments from

    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/jerusalem-babylon-two-cheers-for-democracy-1.374574

  108. “emma – Presumably the degree to which a rabbi has the ability to make one’s life difficult outside of shul depends on the type of community in which they live – for a Belzer chassid it may be extremely significant, while less for for a LWMO living in Riverdale.”

    Not saying he would but a LWMO living in Riverdale has a Rabbi who has the power via Amcha etc to make lifedifficult-but not only a Rabbi who has such power-all Rabbis can make life difficult for anyone.

  109. ” Yerushalayim as the eternal and undivided capital of the State of Israel”

    I don’t believe anyone today believes that there could be a peace settlement wo at least some of Israeli “Jerusalem” being returnedto the Arabs-a lot of what isJerusalem never was historically but was part of a JUne 67 political decision.

  110. Mycroft wrote:

    “For better or worse the OU is not claiming to represent the opinions of its officers and executives -it claims to represent Orthodoxy and its constituent membership.”

    WADR, how can that be even remotely inferred or deduced from the linked and quoted “mission statement” which are at best recruiting statements for would be donors, etc? It certainly does not reflect the Charedi POV on a wide variety of isssues.

    IMO, it is obvious that you view the OU’s stance on Israel as overly hawkish, and view your POV as your legitimate and democratic right to decide whether it is one of your “favorite” charities. However, what would you want the OU to do besides enabling American Jews to buy Kosher food anywhere in the US, provide Chizuk/Kiruv for American Jewish teens, and express a POV on Israel? WADR, your view on Yerushalayim is mistaken. Assuming that a withdrawal from territory will lead to peace is at best a pipe dream, and premised on the basis that there is a partner for a “peace settlement”-which neither the Hamas dominated PA nor those whom purport to be part of the social media driven, but still virulently anti Israel “Arab spring” are willing to ever deliver-the recognition of Israel as the Arab State.

    WADR, I think that your reliance on RYBS’s commments in one shiur in this context is mistaken, and the views of RZ in the leadup to the same are irrelevant, and do not reflect political realities. RYBS, who strongly identified with the goals of the OU, viewed a strong Israel as a major bulwark against assimilation ,strongly defended Israel’s actions in the Six Day War, and was very critical of European countries and the UN with respect to their treatment of Israel in the wake of the war in 1967 . RYBS predicted that the element of surprise would not be present in the next war.

    To claim that Israel should withdraw to what Abba Eban called the “Auschwitz borders” and have to rely on America to stand by its allies is IMO not just poor Israeli policy, but the worst possible advocacy that any American Jewish organization could impose on Israel.

  111. Mycroft wrote:

    “I don’t believe anyone today believes that there could be a peace settlement wo at least some of Israeli “Jerusalem” being returnedto the Arabs-a lot of what isJerusalem never was historically but was part of a JUne 67 political decision”

    Proof please? If one reads Six Days of War, it is evident that liberation of Jerusalem was in response to the active role by Jordan in launching rockets, etc into Israel,despite the fact that Israel asked King Hussein not to get involved in what had been only a war between Israel and Egypt. Furthermore, the abopve ignores the presence of a Jewish Quarter in Jersualem for hundreds of years, and the destruction to the same under Jordanian occupation. I would WADR suggest that you relearn Tanach and see how much of Judea and Samaria, including Chevron and Jerusalem, were historically viewed as part of the prior Jewish sovereign presence in the Land of Israel.

  112. Mycroft-for the longest time on this blog, you have demonstrated a strong antipathy to the work performed and accomplished by OU Kashrus and NCSY, despite the results achieved by the same that no one else in either MO or the Charedi world could imagine when they were undertaken . IMO, transparency is merely another means of your expressing the same.

  113. “To claim that Israel should withdraw to what Abba Eban called the “Auschwitz borders” and have to rely on America to stand by its allies is IMO not just poor Israeli policy, but the worst possible advocacy that any American Jewish organization could impose on Israel.”

    Curiously, this was in the news today:
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/former-israeli-diplomats-in-washington-1967-borders-are-defensible-1.375235

  114. “Steve Brizel on July 25, 2011 at 9:14 pm
    Mycroft wrote:

    “For better or worse the OU is not claiming to represent the opinions of its officers and executives -it claims to represent Orthodoxy and its constituent membership.”

    WADR, how can that be even remotely inferred or deduced from the linked and quoted “mission statement” which are at best recruiting statements for would be donors, etc? It certainly does not reflect the Charedi POV on a wide variety of isssues.”

    As it also does not represent the MO views on some issues.

    “However, what would you want the OU to do besides enabling American Jews to buy Kosher food anywhere in the US, provide Chizuk/Kiruv for American Jewish teens”

    Perfectly legitimate activities for an American Orthodox organization.

    “Assuming that a withdrawal from territory will lead to peace is at best a pipe dream,”
    Maybe true-but it could still be in Israels best interest-I don’t live there and its Israelis choice but does not change my statement ““I don’t believe anyone today believes that there could be a peace settlement wo at least some of Israeli “Jerusalem” being returnedto the Arabs”-of course there are many like Steve who believe even if Israel would return parts of Jerusalem peace is a pipedream.

    “I think that your reliance on RYBS’s commments in one shiur in this context is mistaken”
    He was consistent in his belief on the issue-I choose unlike others to only quote public statements of the Rav-in this case among others apparently Prof Kaplan heard the same shiur in Rubin schul.A shiur in Rubin schul on the issue of potential Beitar hooliganism is lifnei am veidah.

  115. “Steve Brizel on July 25, 2011 at 9:23 pm
    Mycroft wrote:

    “I don’t believe anyone today believes that there could be a peace settlement wo at least some of Israeli “Jerusalem” being returnedto the Arabs-a lot of what isJerusalem never was historically but was part of a JUne 67 political decision””

    Proof please? If one reads Six Days of War, it is evident that liberation of Jerusalem was in response to the active role by Jordan in launching rockets, etc into Israel,despite the fact that Israel asked King Hussein not to get involved in what had been only a war between Israel and Egypt. Furthermore, the abopve ignores the presence of a Jewish Quarter in Jersualem for hundreds of years, and the destruction to the same under Jordanian occupation. I would WADR suggest that you relearn Tanach and see how much of Judea and Samaria, including Chevron and Jerusalem, were historically viewed as part of the prior Jewish sovereign presence in the Land of Israel.

    Your response doesn’t contradict anything that I wrote-

  116. “Steve Brizel on July 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm
    Mycroft-for the longest time on this blog, you have demonstrated a strong antipathy to the work performed and accomplished by OU Kashrus and NCSY,”

    I think I have written in the past that the OU is certainly themost reliable hechsher in North America-
    NCSY has certainly accomplished things for many see eg you have appropriate hakarot hatov. I do not wish to start a debate on NCSY-but obviously there are opinions different than yours about the perfection of the NCSY enterprise.

  117. IH wrote:

    “Curiously, this was in the news today:
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/former-israeli-diplomats-in-washington-1967-borders-are-defensible-1.375235

    This is hardly news-just another junket of retired Israeli officials and IDF officers whose views are openly Torah MiSinai on the issue.

  118. Mycroft posted this recollection of a past event:

    “He was consistent in his belief on the issue-I choose unlike others to only quote public statements of the Rav-in this case among others apparently Prof Kaplan heard the same shiur in Rubin schul.A shiur in Rubin schul on the issue of potential Beitar hooliganism is lifnei am veidah”

    The event in question was a planned JDL protest and disruption of a speech by a UK ambassador to the UN. RYBS’s views assumed that there was a partner for peace and a considered decision made by the Israeli military and intelligence well before being presented with a political fait accompli that was rammed through the Knesset.

  119. Mycroft wrote in response to my comment, which was prompted by the within post:

    “I don’t believe anyone today believes that there could be a peace settlement wo at least some of Israeli “Jerusalem” being returnedto the Arabs-a lot of what isJerusalem never was historically but was part of a JUne 67 political decision””

    Proof please? If one reads Six Days of War, it is evident that liberation of Jerusalem was in response to the active role by Jordan in launching rockets, etc into Israel,despite the fact that Israel asked King Hussein not to get involved in what had been only a war between Israel and Egypt. Furthermore, the abopve ignores the presence of a Jewish Quarter in Jersualem for hundreds of years, and the destruction to the same under Jordanian occupation. I would WADR suggest that you relearn Tanach and see how much of Judea and Samaria, including Chevron and Jerusalem, were historically viewed as part of the prior Jewish sovereign presence in the Land of Israel.

    Your response doesn’t contradict anything that I wrote”

    WADR, your response is indicative that you didn’t read my comment. Your post claimed that Jerusalem was not part of Israel historically? What about Malchei Beis David and from the building of Bayis Sheni through the Hasmonean Dynasty until Churban Bayis Sheni?

  120. Mycroft wrote:

    “I think I have written in the past that the OU is certainly themost reliable hechsher in North America-
    NCSY has certainly accomplished things for many see eg you have appropriate hakarot hatov. I do not wish to start a debate on NCSY-but obviously there are opinions different than yours about the perfection of the NCSY enterprise”

    B”H, you at least expressed a sense of Hakaras HaTov vis a vis OU Kashrus and NCSY-I hardly think that I am speaking solely personally on NCSY’s great work for American Jewish teens, and I never said that NCSY was perfect. Perhaps, if more teens developed a sense of the Kedushas HaYom for Shabbos Kodesh in particular, and Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chesed in general, via NCSY and its many programs, regardless of their Hashkafic orientation or lack thereof, we would hear far less of kids being OTD , texting on Shabbos or engaging in far more problematic activities. IM, far too many of our teens ( and adults as well), both MO and Charedi, think that being a Torah observant person is strictly an intellectual, go through the motions like process, without any emotional committment or appreciation required.

    That, IMO, is a tragedy that needs to be addressed, not raising issues like “transparency”, which is IMO, yet another example of inside baseball that really is irrelevant to the larger issues facing the MO and Charedi worlds.

  121. Mycroft wrote:

    “Not saying he would but a LWMO living in Riverdale has a Rabbi who has the power via Amcha etc to make lifedifficult-but not only a Rabbi who has such power-all Rabbis can make life difficult for anyone”

    I would question whether the average communal rabbi has such a power, especially when compared to such Acharonim as the CS, Nodah BiYehudah and R Chaim Ozer, Zicronam Livracha. Given the social mobility of contemporary society, if you haven’t bought a house and don’t have kids in school, you can easily move to a community of your liking where the rav does not give Musar, and satisfies what you are looking for in a rav. See R A David’s book of Divrei Torah based on RYBS whereby RYBS contrasts the styles and worries of Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohen in this regard.

  122. Mycroft-Take a look at any reliable book on the 1948 War. The nascent State of Israel fought mightily to preserve the lifelines to Jerusalem, and to keep the Old City-until Israeli forces therein were forced to surrendur. Ditto for the Etzion Bloc. There was no decision to abandon the same either out of strategy or because of some dream that King Abdullah would be a benign occupier and allow Jewish access to the Kotel.

  123. Steve — the footprint of what we now call Jerusalem has been expanded dramatically since 1967. Both in the Jewish areas and the Arab ones. This is an objective fact of geography.

    I believe this is the point Mycroft was making.

  124. See the 2 maps at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs site: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Facts+About+Israel/Israel+in+Maps/

    – Jerusalem Before the Six Day War; and,
    – Jerusalem After the Six Day War

  125. IH-so what? Geography, per se, is hardly the determinative factor. Israeli rule of Jerusalem between 1948-67 was limited to the New City. Acesss to the Kotel for any Jew or Israeli was forbidden. B”H, the “footprints” been “expanded dramatically since 1967.” It is a far better city today and one cannot deny that Israel has permitted full and complete access to all of the holy sites therein by members of any and all faiths-which was not the case between 1948-67.

  126. Steve — it responded to the point your were arguing with Mycroft.

  127. I don’t know how many posters here visited pre 1967 Jerusalem as I was, but it was a city under siege where if you stepped too far out in the back of the King David Hotel, you stood a good chance of attracting a sniper’s bullet from the Arab Legion. The only road into the City was the same road that the Arabs attempted to place a stranglehold on via attacks centered in Latrun and elsewhere. Only the creation of the Burma Road saved the New City from both an untenable military situation. We tend to forget that Israel pre 1967 had no strategic depth, that the kibbutzim in the north were subjected to Syrian air attacks, etc.

    I thought that the IDF’s officers’ views of strategic depth ignored the fact that the Six Day War was launched because of the close off of the Gulf of Aquaba, the desertion from Sinai by the UN, the failure of the Great Powers to protect Israeli rights of navigation, and the Egyptian build up in the Sinai-which all sources within the Israeli military viewed as a real threat.

  128. Steve — Please don’t pander. My Aunt is a 7th generation Yerushalmit.

    Mycroft’s two assertions are correct: ““I don’t believe anyone today believes that there could be a peace settlement wo at least some of Israeli “Jerusalem” being returnedto the Arabs-a lot of what isJerusalem never was historically but was part of a JUne 67 political decision”

  129. IH-Viewing the issue of Jerusalem pre and post 1967 solely from the prism of geography IMO ignores the historical record of Jewish life therein for hundreds of years, the siege on the city between 1948 and 1967 by a hardly benign Jordanian occupation and Israel’s decision to fight for the political life of the city in 1948.

  130. IH wrote:

    “Steve — Please don’t pander. My Aunt is a 7th generation Yerushalmit.

    Mycroft’s two assertions are correct: ““I don’t believe anyone today believes that there could be a peace settlement wo at least some of Israeli “Jerusalem” being returnedto the Arabs-a lot of what isJerusalem never was historically but was part of a JUne 67 political decision”

    IH-anyone who either visited the city or lived in Jerusalem between 1948-67 will confirm that it was a city under a siege. One need not be a 7th generation Yerushalmit to see such obvious facts, the underscoring of which I do not accept as “pandering”, any more than your consistent citation to Haaretz- the oh-so predictable voice of the Israeli secular post Zionist left, as being authoritative on any issue other than the constituency that it serves. See a recent critique of Haaretz by Dr Jack Wertheimer in this regard.

    Mycroft and your POV are based on a nonexistent factor-a partner willing to negotiate, and accept Israel as the Jewish State- as opposed to an enemy devoted to destroying your right to exist and actively denying the same and all Jewish ties to the Land of Isarel and Jerusalem in culture, academia and media.

  131. For those interested in what it was like to be in Jerusalem in 1948, I strongly recommend Amos Oz’s brilliant “A Tale of Love and Darkness”. The relevant section (starting with the UN Recognition of Israel and going directly to the seige can be previewed at http://tinyurl.com/4xjjz54. [In the film about Oz that was shown earlier in the year, he reads some of the prose in Hebrew and it is breathtakingly stunning).

    The details of the battles, however, are best read in Benny Morris’ 1948.

  132. IH-the excerpt from Amos Oz leaves no doubt as to the severity of the siege and that Jerusalem was fighting for its life in 1948.

  133. IH-My reading of the Amos Oz excerpt is that as a result of the 1949 armistice, the residents of Jersusalem portrayed in the book became resigned, almost completely, to the loss of the Kotel, the Old City and Ramat Rachel. Oz describes himself as becoming detached from the religious teachings of the Tachemoni school. That was a generation that accepted the same as the price of independence. In a similar fashion, such a rationale guided the residents of Tel Aviv who dug graves before the Six Day War. Noone could have dreamed that such a miraculous victory would take place, and that Jerusalem, which had been divided by dint of war and an armistice, would be entirely in Israeli hands.

    It was only by virtue of the conquest of the Old City that Israelis and the world recognized that their hitherto sense of benign neglect over Ir HaKodesh allowed the Arabs to treat the same with an almost unspeakable sense of contempt for all things Jewish. WADR, in the absence of a partner for peace, no Israeli government has a shred of a mandate to considering any possible division of Jerusalem and rewarding terrorism.

  134. IH-I suspect that many of the generation that accepted the division of Jerusalem as a price of peace and independence in 1949, never thought that the existential threat that was posed in June 1967 would ever rear its head. One cannot deny the fact that when the Jordanian Arab Legion began acting in a manner that not only theatened the armistice, but well beyond the same, that all prior arrangements vis a vis not involving Jordan in the war were off the table-especially as the war in Sinai moved to a rapid conclusion and troops could be transferred there, etc.

  135. Steve — none of this changes the facts that:

    1. “Jerusalem” as presently defined includes significant land mass that was not “Jerusalem” in 1967 — both due to new neighborhoods being built on undeveloped land and the incorporation of previously independent towns into “Jerusalem”.

    2. No one seriously expects that if & when there is a peace deal, all of this post-1967 “Jerusalem” will remain in Israel.

  136. Further, on (2) there have been multiple negotiating teams that have ended up at plus/minus the same solution. So, rhetoric aside, the Jerusalem solution set is well understood when/if the rest of the deal is done. [From my perspective, the biggest gaps are the Palestinian refusal to explicitly recognize Israel as The Jewish State (i.e. self-determination of the Jewish people) and that the negotiated deal will be the final deal with no further claims or appeals by either side].

  137. Steve, as best as I can tell neither Mycroft nor IH is suggesting that Israel return the Jewish Quarter or the kotel or, indeed, the Jewish areas across the ’67 lines (Gilo etc.). As I read them, what they’re saying is that what we now call “Jerusalem” includes Arab areas that were not Jerusalem (on either side of the border) pre ’67, and giving back some of those areas in the context of an acceptable overall settlement, if one could ever be reached (which, IMO, seems doubtful at this time), is not really giving back or once again dividing “Jerusalem.” And yes, I was in Jerusalem pre ’67 (the summer of ’66 to be exact), and I do remember what it was like then and would never suggest that Israel go back to that situation. But I don’t think that’s what Mycroft and IH are talking about.

  138. Joseph Kaplan-I was also in Jerusalem in the summer of 1966. I think that IH’s comments certainly imply that Gilo, etc are subject to negotiations.

    IH-talk is cheap-as of this date, any talk about the division of Jerusalem is IMO extraordinarily premature, especially in the light of an Arab partner willing to recognize Israel as the Jewish state. FWIW, if you want to read the works of a panderer for the dismemberment of Israel, try the works of Tom Segev. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Segev#cite_note-6

  139. For an excellent review of Segev’s book which blames Israel for the Six Day War, one need only read Ambassador Oren’s review of the same. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/07/AR2007060701872.html

  140. For those interested, take a look at what Hamas does to those it considers collaborators with Israel.http://www.qassam.ps/news-4771-Ministry_of_Interior_executes_two_collaborators_in_Gaza.html

  141. For those interested in how PA media view Israel, see this link.
    http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=5323

  142. For those interested in Charedim and the work market, see the following. http://www.jpost.com/Business/BusinessNews/Article.aspx?id=230800

  143. “Joseph Kaplan on July 26, 2011 at 5:56 pm
    Steve, as best as I can tell neither Mycroft nor IH is suggesting that Israel return the Jewish Quarter or the kotel or, indeed, the Jewish areas across the ’67 lines (Gilo etc.). As I read them, what they’re saying is that what we now call “Jerusalem” includes Arab areas that were not Jerusalem (on either side of the border) pre ’67, and giving back some of those areas in the context of an acceptable overall settlement, if one could ever be reached (which, IMO, seems doubtful at this time), is not really giving back or once again dividing “Jerusalem.” And yes, I was in Jerusalem pre ’67 (the summer of ’66 to be exact), and I do remember what it was like then and would never suggest that Israel go back to that situation. But I don’t think that’s what Mycroft and IH are talking about.”

    Joseph comes very close to if not exactly expressing my viewpoint.

  144. “Steve Brizel on July 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm
    Mycroft linked us to this quote:

    “The OU was thus using its political capital on an issue that is far removed from the OU’s stated goals of strengthening Orthodoxy and supporting Israel. This lobbying behavior was so far removed from the OU’s stated goals, that one can say that the OU has gone off-target, it has gone OTD”

    WADR, how and why? Support of Israel and strengthening Orthodoxy, whether via Kashrus, Kiruv/Chizuk in NCSY or enhancing Orthodox life, depends heavily on not just pushkes and small checks, but on donors willing to give major donations that are permissible under the tax laws. We tend to forget that in the aftermath of the Sinai Campaign, President Eisenhowe threatened to strip UJA of its tax exemption as a means of forcing an Israeli withdrawal. IMO, the tax exemption at issue is one of the main vehicles and means that religious groups in general can express their views without fear of poltical or R”L repercussions.”

    I received the following comment on Steves comment:
    ” Major donations will still be permissible under the proposed new tax law. It’s just that the after-tax cost to a high-income donor of a $1,000 donation will increase from the current $600 (under a 40% deduction) to the proposed $720 (under the proposed 28% deduction.) It’s not plausible that this proposed change will materially impact the OU’s goal of strengthening Israel. Don’t forget that AIPAC has probably done much more to strengthen Israel than has the OU, and donations to AIPAC are not tax deductible. “

  145. “IH on July 26, 2011 at 5:17 pm
    Steve — none of this changes the facts that:

    1. “Jerusalem” as presently defined includes significant land mass that was not “Jerusalem” in 1967 — both due to new neighborhoods being built on undeveloped land and the incorporation of previously independent towns into “Jerusalem”.

    2. No one seriously expects that if & when there is a peace deal, all of this post-1967 “Jerusalem” will remain in Israel”

    Agreed

  146. Mycroft-when the US gives back the vast land mass that was acquired solely by virture of being the prevaliling party in the Mexcian war, let me know.

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