Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When it comes to money, some religious Jews are not that religious anymore


In German as well as in English I have published a few critical articles about, lets call them "religious institutions or individuals". There is no doubt that many of those people are doing something good to other Jews. However, when you take a closer look, there is also a darker side to it. Especially when it comes to donations. 

Various institutions or individuals will do almost anything in order to get themselves out of negative SEO in the Google Search Engine. Although I have been criticizing certain practices of those people, I still kept in mind that, apart from their personal interests they are actually doing something good to Jewish society. Those people, on the other hand, don't want anything negative about them on the Internet because they don't want donors to see what is going on.

On my German site I received an e - mail from a female secretary of a Baal Teshuva movement telling me something in the worst dirty language. This, I wouldn't have expected from a religious movement. It was a while ago and since then, the movement keeps on making attempts getting in touch with me. Maybe trying to convince me that I was wrong. 

Here on Shearim, I keep on getting comments trying to justify a guy doing Shabbat hospitality in Jerusalem. I criticized him a long time ago for certain practices. I know what I am talking about, as I used to work for him. Nevertheless, since writing the article I have been deleting rude comments and I will continue doing so. What I am trying to tell to other bloggers is that the moment you become controversial even the best religious people will hate you because they see their donations floating away. And when it comes to money, people can be a real pain in the ass.:-) My only advice in such situations is: Keep on deleting comments attacking you personally like telling you that the person is religious but you are not because of your article.

Today, unfortunately too many things are about money, personal interests and one's own reputation, and the Jewish frum world in no exception.


  1. While money is important in our current economy, it's depressing to see people of any "high" class movement or religion digress into vulgar behavior.

    I don't think the "dirty" language is an issue. The issue is that the way in which the "dirt" is presented happens to be in a violent, malicious, and abusive manner.

    Worse, people who are saying mean things might be justifying their feelings because they feel attacked. As far as I'm concerned unless full disclosure from both sides happen, no one will know the truth. Of course there is lashon hara to consider.

    But what do I know? Before my writing hiatus, I was writing vulgarities on a daily basis...

    I hope this finds you well Miriam!

  2. B"H

    You could be right too. However, reality is that too many religious Jews as well as organizations depend on donations. In fact, almost everyone is asking for donations. From the Chabad website to the Simon Wiesenthal Institute.

    I can tell you another example where a guy who was in charge of the incoming donations threatened me to take the article out of the blog. Even though the content was true, the guy wrote that this would harm the donation business. By the way, the guy was probably mad because he took his share of 10%. In the end, I had to contact the Rabbi I was writing about and he finally called back the guy.

    I don't think it is too much of "being attacked", as many times, the Israeli media already attacks various religious directions. I personally see the factor in the incoming donations and that people google their name and suddenly find it on the Search Engine.

    Regarding another comment I received yesterday: The reader entered Shearim via Google Search Engine, as he was googling something. He was from Israel and I very much assume that many comments come from the person I wrote about and not necessarily from his fans. But this is just my guess.

  3. It seems that these days "everyone" is trying to receive "donations" as opposed to sweating it out from 8-4 every day. I personally think that once one asks for people to "donate" they need to realize they are "open for investigation". Those who scream too loud sometimes have the most to hide.

  4. B"H

    There are people asking for donations who actually keep a high percentage of the money to themselves. They pay their rent, their car and they support their families. Only afterwards, the rest of the money goes to their institutions. And even there, staff and bills have to be paid. So, how much is actually left for the poor Yeshiva student ?

  5. I think it is important to differentiate between groups. I often find Jewish (especially Orthodox) fundraising over the top, but there are different levels. For instance, I think Chabad is generally within the bounds of normalcy. On the other hand, Aish haTorah strikes me as being only about the money. As the economy continues to worsen, I fear more and more organizations, especially ultra-Orthodox ones, will turn to the high pressure tactics of an Aish. I guess desperate times call for desperate measures...

  6. B"H

    In Chabad, basically every Shaliach is his own fundraiser and I do believe that the Shaliach uses his donations carefully. However, some Shlichim know how to raise funds successfully whereas others really have to struggle.

    In Israel, the Yeshivot are usually supported by government money. At least those Yeshivot which do accept the money. I don't know if AISH does accept the governmental support but many students based in the Old City have to pay fees. To me, AISH seems more like a business but a few years ago, they were forced to dismiss some of their staff, as less and less students came to Jerusalem. This was the time when lots of suicide attacks took place in town and American parents refused sending their kids to Jerusalem.

    However, AISH seems to do well when you look at all the new buildings.

    The same with the Breslover Arush movement turning their Beit Midrash in Shmuel HaNavi Street more into a palace - like building. You can see from the outside that lots of money only went into the building.

    Times are rough, donations are getting less and various Jewish institutions discover their pushing behaviour.

  7. lol why are you so anti-arush,anti- na nach -__-