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▪ A new, local Open Orthodox “clergy” organization: Beltway Vaad
▪ A growing trend to end comments because of bad behavior: Join the Conversation on Tablet
Does Your Organization have an Ethics Protocol?
Report: Jews continue to leave Europe
▪ Who is paying for the costs of making camps more accessible? Camps have become unaffordable to many Jews and I’m not sure why: Foundation for Jewish Camp launches four new pilot efforts
How Jews Built New Life in ‘Shanghai Ghetto’
Kars 4 Kids Rakes in the Buckz—by Not Touting Its Jewish Beneficiaries
▪ This is not a Jewish issue, even if some Jews may support it: Will marijuana legalization light up Jewish advocacy?
“Holy Rollers” — New Kosher Sausage Cart in NYC

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 and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance 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.

5 comments

  1. The way Oorah does fundraising is a big part of the general communal malaise. It is based on the premise that good chinukh doesn’t involve being exemplary in business ethics.

    Secondardily, picture the impact knowledge of there methodology would impact students’ non-Orthodox parents! And it’s impossible that with so much going on, none of the parents catch word of it.

    Rav Moshe wrote about the value of being stringent on chalav yisrael in an educational setting, even though in general he considered the observance optional. Can’t we maintain baseline monetary ethics in this setting?

    The truth about why it bothers me so much:

    The elementary school I attended for grades 5, 6 and 7 was fairly right-wing. (The reason I switched after 4th would be no ad for Mod-O schools, but that’s too far afield.) Strains of “Bereishis — in unfahng, bara Elokim — di Eibishter hut gemacht…” were heard from the 1st graders down the hall.

    The head of the school was very politically connected, so he got advanced warning of when the government was sending auditors around to check that the school wasn’t abusing the money provided for food. Problem was, he claimed more students than the school had, and he claimed the school served breakfast, and it didn’t. The school was small, and didn’t have enough bar mitzvah boys to be assured of a minyan, so even 7th and 8th grade arrived after Shacharis and breakfast. No one at all got breakfast.

    Fortunately for the rabbis involved, the audit worked out to be on the 32nd of the Omer. So, they convinced a chassidishe school to send their kids on an early Lag baOmer trip. But we didn’t look like chassidishe kids, so they mixed the preschool and lower grades, so that no one would stand out. Fortunately also, the HS which had folded a decade earlier had once had its own arm of the dining room, which was since used to enable milchig and fleishig tables. So we had the seats and table space for extra people.

    And we all marched from our classrooms, down the stairs past the head counters to get breakfast for the first time.

    But even with the other school, the head count didn’t match the number filed with the government. So, they had the seventh and eighth grades sneak out the back door of the dining room, up the stairs outdoors, and in the back door on the main floor. At this point, I bailed. The rest of the class went down the hall, around the corner, and past the counter again.

    Me, I refused to go back to school. Insisting the school had no religion to teach me. We found a HS that would take me after 7th grade, but my parents didn’t know what to do for the rest of that year. We compromised down to going to school, but on a homework strike. Learning with my dad never stopped, so the gemara I was learning in school was reviewed despite my “strike” (read: excuse not to do homework my parent’s wouldn’t fight).

  2. Srully Epstein

    Micha,

    I don’t agree with your assessment. While I am no fan of Oorah (or most kiruv orgs for that matter), there is a world of difference between hoodwinking the authorities and promoting your charity through generic advertising.

    Anyone with a computer can look into Kars 4 Kids, discover that it’s a DBA name for JOY of our Youth, and look up their 990 to discover that they are essentially an arm of Oorah. You can do all this, as I have, in under two minutes.

    The fact that people give money to tzedakah orgs without vetting them first makes me want to pound my head against a wall. But it is not illegal and it is not unethical. It’s people’s stupidity, naivete, and laziness that allows so many questionable tzedakas to flourish.

    (And, btw, kudos to you for having the maturity and cojones to stand up to your yeshiva and walk out!)

    • I am pretty sure that people’s main motives in “donating” old cars are (1) getting rid of the car, and (2) getting a tax deduction. I would suspect most of them don’t really care where the “charity” goes, assuming it’s not to something actively destructive. But perhaps I am wrong.

      • “Main” is the key word. Even if true there are a number of organizations (including orthodox) which will provide this service so the choice issue (and possible duty not to deceive) would still apply.

      • They were sued twice (that I know of). They had to pay out $65,000 each to Pennsylvania and Oregon in separate instances of settling with the state out of court.

        By the way, their “vacation voucher” is a chance to stay at a time share and spend the weekend listening to someone hard sell you a time share.

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