Feb 5, 2008

local RBS Tzedaka: clarification from the Kupa

The following was not written by me. It was written by somebody who was disturbed by recent allegations against the Kupa and he wanted to clear things up. He called Rav Eidensohn (head of the Kupa) a number of times and asked him a bunch of questions based on the allegations being mentioned in various places here on this blog in recent discussions. The writer who was diligent enough to do the work is a supporter of both the Kupa and Lmaan Achai. He sent me the following....

NOTE before we begin: this is not for the purpose of being able to attack them for certain policy. If you do not like one of, any of, or all of the answers and explanations below, feel free to not support them. If they generate more questions, or if you feel certain questions about the Kupa's policies and methods have not been answered, feel free to ask or criticize respectfully in the comments. We will try to get answers to all the questions... at least, as much as possible. There might be a situation in which we cannot get to the bottom of certain issues. Feel free to call Rav Eidensohn yourself if you have an issue that bothers you - he is listed in the phone book.

The fact that there are two tzedakah organizations in Ramat Beit Shemesh, the Kupah Shel Tzedakah and Lemaan Achai, does not have to mean that there is a fundamental disagreement between them, just that there are different methods of operating. This is the case in many cities where there are more than one kupos shel tzedakah and there is not necessarily hostility between them. Therefore there is no reason to assume that if the Kupah says something positive about itself and its methods that it is automatically intended to denigrate Lemaan Achai. Conversely when Lemaan Achai say they do "smart chesed" the implication is not that the Kupah does "stupid chesed" or that they are "Ahavas Chinam" that the Kupa is Sinas Chinam! Rather each organization is just stressing its perceived maalos. Regarding some of the points that were discussed on the blog around Chanukah time concerning the Kupah Shel Tzedakah I took the time to verify some of the issues with Shmuel Zalman Eidenson, the chairman of the Kupah Shel Tzedkah. Rabbi Perlstein and Rabbi Eidenson did not say or intimate anything against Lemaan Achai at the dinner last year, and it is on video for anyone who wants to check it out.

In any case anyone who is bothered by what Rav Perlstein has done or said need not boycott the Kupah Shel Tzedekah just because he is affiliated with it; he is not THE posek of the Kupah. It is important to stress that the directing principles by which the Kupah operates were formulated six years ago in a meeting attended by Rabbis Perlstein, Kornfeld, Malinowitz and Davidovitz. Day to day decisions regarding applications for help by individuals or families are made based on these principles and in consultation with the Rav of the shul with whom that individual or family is affiliated. Thus decisions are made based on the input of every Rabbi of every Shul and the Kupah is not the monopoly of just one Rav or one group.

Regarding the issue with the electricity about to be cut off, the truth is that Chevrat Chashmal did make known that although they had pushed off doing this, on a certain day electricity would definitely be cut off to a number of people who had not yet paid their electricity bills
for many months. The Kupah called them again and pleaded for an extension but they were refused. The night before the inevitable cut-off at about 3 am notices were typed up asking the community to help. In the end the Kupah was in fact successful in getting an extension after paying some of the money and promising to pay the rest, and they raised locally around 20000shekels which prevented most people from having their electricity cut off. However there wasn't enough money for everyone and indeed some people's electricity was cut off as a result for a short time.

Regarding the Kupah using a paid secretary, the money that is used to pay her does not come from donations to the Kupah given by private individuals but rather from special donations designed specially for this purpose, as well as other administrative expenses. For example Shefa Shuk gives 10000 shekels a month, enough to cover three secretaries if that would be necessary. So the tzedakah someone gives is indeed 100 percent tzedakah.

Hopefully this will clear up some of the misunderstandings.

It is a disgrace to the community that people who dedicatedly volunteer their time and resources for the benefit of the community are the subjects of loshon ho'ro and motzi shem ra. It is possible to make discreet enquiries, and indeed a person is obligated to do so to an extent to make sure he is giving tzedakah to a worthy and reliable cause, but a public forum is not the place to post allegations and hearsay. We should all be deeply grateful to the Kupah and Lmaan Achai and their volunteers who devote themselves to helping others.

29 comments:

  1. Thank you Rafi for making that "response" available. I am not sure what to make of it.

    On a not totally unrelated note, the writer for the JPost told me that it was one of RP's supporters who told him that RP was the Chief Rabbi of Bet Shemesh.

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  2. On second thought, if the kupa were to disassociate itself from RP's words and actions (how about just the incident at the boy's choir last summer) or even heaven forfend, request that he cease and desist, then progress would have been achieved.

    I am not moved by claims of lashon hara and motzei shem ra. This is like not outing a pedophile so their kids can get a shidduch. Of course by outing said person, the kids might no longer be molested.

    In other words by outing this behavior, maybe RP's associates and the kupa's tactics can save the community and LMA from being further molested.

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  3. Rabbi Perlstein is *not* the Possek of Kupa Shel Tzedaka??

    So why does the ShemeshPhone Local Telephone Directory say (P.22E, 2007/8):

    "Tzedaka Fund RBS Aleph.
    Helps needy families in RBS, under the guidance of Rav Shlomo Zalman Perlstein and the supervision of neighborhood rabbis. See page 44E."

    Page 44E is a whole page entitled Kupa Shel Tzedaka/RBS Tzedaka Fund, with the Kupa logo etc..

    I appreciate that disassociating themselves from Rabbi Perlstein can improve the Kupa's PR.

    But they do seem to be talking out of both sides of their mouth.

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  4. Shefa Shuk - as Shefa Shuk's money is being used for Kupa's administration costs, why does the enormous sign in Shefa Shuk say "100% Tzedaka"??

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  5. this "100% Tzedakah" thing is a bit overdone. its just a maketing slogan for KST but it is rather neaningless. both KST and LA have paid workers and expenses (which is allowed and even a necesity)and both KST and LA should be (and i'm sure are)very careful in their spending in order to ensure that no money (whether from donors or shefa shuk) is wasted.
    but in truth, the money that KST gets from it's "other sources" for its overhead would otherwise go to the needy if no expenses were required. and anyone giving to LA can also be assured that 100% of his money goes to the needy and thier overhead expenses will come from the donations of others that know that tzedakah funds have expenses and are not too "makpid" on 100%.

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  6. Electricity: The Kupa's "Emergency Appeal" at Hannuka was explicitly for families who HAD had their electricity cut off.

    "The truth is.."
    that this was (we are now hearing confirmed) not the case.

    They were in fact "about to be cut off".

    Of course, every day, people receive warning notices on overdue electricity bills, in which the Electricity Company routinely threatens to terminate their service - that's how they get us all to pay our bills promptly!

    So why all the hulabaloo at Hanuka?

    And why was the nature of the cause exagerated/misrepresented by the Kupa?

    Or was this, simply, a cheap sales ploy - emotional manipultation - to get people to give money to the Kupa, totally unrelated to specific electricity bills?

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  7. you said:
    Day to day decisions regarding applications for help by individuals or families are made based on these principles and in consultation with the Rav of the shul with whom that individual or family is affiliated.

    does this maen that the kupah only helps families that are affiliated to one of the shuls in RBS? what about an "unaffiliated" poor person?

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  8. ....and if YOU were a recipient of tzedaka, would YOU necessarily want YOUR private details passed on to YOUR shul rabbi??!

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  9. Is anyone interested in seeing the video but I would be happy if someone were willing to take them up on their offer.

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  10. Let me rephrase: Is anyone interested in seeing the video? I would be happy if someone were willing to take them up on their offer.

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  11. Sick of the GamesFebruary 05, 2008 7:59 PM

    I was at the MM AND I have seen the video.
    Correct Rav Eidensohn and Rav Perlstein did not actually say
    Lema'an Achai. He did say "other organizations". The whole basis of the evening was "what makes Kupa different".

    Different from what? The purpose was to educate how Kupa is different from "other Tzedaka organizations" in the community.

    To whom was Rav Eidensohn comparing the tzedaka organization? To a yeshiva? To a Bikur Cholim? To Hatzola? No, he was obviously comparing Kupa to the other well known agency in town. There was no need to say Lema'an Achai. Everyone understood.

    Why make the comparison? So that donors will make a choice for whom to support and volunteer. Based on comparisons made by Rav Eidensohn.

    If the Kupa is in fact so great it wouldn't have to compare itself to anyone. It could stand on its own merits.

    Does Pepsi compare itself to water or to Coke?

    I went to the Melave Malka to be educated and find out what makes the Kupa different.

    Now I know what makes it different:

    Truth and "erlichkeit". Lema'an Achai obviously has a lot of it.

    They don't have to explain their words or actions after the fact.

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  12. I want to see that video!February 05, 2008 7:59 PM

    Can that video be put up on the web? I want to see exactly what R' Perlstein and R' Eidensohn said. This would contribute towards transparency.

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  13. We're in the year 2008! The video could be edited.

    Why does the Kupa say RP is not the posek in one place and in the shemeshphone say he is (with other Rabbis).
    Those who have said RP was the Kupa posek and accused of falsehoods should be vindicated!
    Those who said that in fact Electricity WAS NOT cut off on the 7th night of Chanuka and called liars should be vindicated!

    Those who are eased by the words of the person who spoke with Rav Eidensohn should be examined.

    After reading his posting I am even more disturbed than before.

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  14. For the record:

    Lema'an Achai has NEVER made the claim that they are Ahavas Chinam!

    Their poster simply says:
    "Help us Spread Ahavas Chinam"

    Rav Eidensohn should read the posters before commenting as such.
    (He might also wish to read the Shemeshphone before saying Rav Perlstein is not the guiding Rav)

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  15. It is a disgrace to the community that people who dedicatedly volunteer their time and resources for the benefit of the community are the subjects of loshon ho'ro and motzi shem ra. It is possible to make discreet enquiries, and indeed a person is obligated to do so to an extent to make sure he is giving tzedakah to a worthy and reliable cause, but a public forum is not the place to post allegations and hearsay


    i second that

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  16. dear sick of the games -
    "Different from what? The purpose was to educate how Kupa is different from "other Tzedaka organizations" in the community.

    To whom was Rav Eidensohn comparing the tzedaka organization? To a yeshiva? To a Bikur Cholim? To Hatzola?"

    To all other tzeddakah organizations in the world. To vaad harabbonim. to vaad artzi. to the givat sharet chesed fund. to lemaan achai. to ALL of them - each in its own way....


    "If the Kupa is in fact so great it wouldn't have to compare itself to anyone. It could stand on its own merits."

    If lemaan achai was so great its supporters wouldnt get the jitters by something that someone who supports the kuppa says. it wouldnt be so threatening....

    well i take it back, im sure lemaan achai isnt threatened by this game. they have confidence in their chesed and tzedakah.


    "Does Pepsi compare itself to water or to Coke?"

    yes


    "Now I know what makes it different:

    Truth and "erlichkeit". Lema'an Achai obviously has a lot of it."

    and dont forget overly bitter and uptight supporters. lemaan achai obviously has a lot of them too.

    ... not sure why, since Im certain they do great work


    ALSO, regarding the 100% tzeddakah, when i give money, i dont care where someone ELSE's money goes. i dont care is someone ELSE pays for a secretary, or a car, or a phone, or a melave malka. I care where MY money goes. i care who gets helped by MY donation. If ALL of my money is able to go to poor people, I am happier than if MOST of it does. Im not sure why this is such a sore spot.

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  17. 'ALSO, regarding the 100% tzeddakah, when i give money, i dont care where someone ELSE's money goes. i dont care is someone ELSE pays for a secretary, or a car, or a phone, or a melave malka. I care where MY money goes. i care who gets helped by MY donation. If ALL of my money is able to go to poor people, I am happier than if MOST of it does. Im not sure why this is such a sore spot."

    So you should also give to Lema'an Achai. They have special donors for their overhead costs. All of your money will also go to help their needy.

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  18. To Rav Eidensohn,

    Thank you for attempting to clear up matters but I must confess that remain confused.

    1) If Rav Perlstein is not any more connected than other Rabbonim why is the Kupa cnsidered "under his guidance" (look in Shemeshphone).

    2) Why did it take 2 months to come up with an answer about the Chashmal incident? Also...why was there such an emergency drive for chashmal when Kupa advertised its Winter Fund was fully funded less than 2 weeks before?

    3)Rav Eidensohn..just to whom were you referring when you kept saying "unlike other organizations" last year at the Melave Malka?

    4)I asked Shefa Shuk why Lema'an Achai or other organizations couldn't have a card as well as Kupa to raise funds. After all if I'm a shopper at Shefa Shuk why can't I decide where my money goes? It was told to me that Kupa doesn't want anyone else to participate. If this is false please tell them so other irgunim can benefit. If it is true then this says something less than nice about Kupa.

    Thank you for your time in answering.

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  19. "To all other tzeddakah organizations in the world. To vaad harabbonim. to vaad artzi. to the givat sharet chesed fund. to lemaan achai. to ALL of them - each in its own way...."

    So Rav Eidensohn meant that vaad harabbonim and vaad artzi don't have da'as Torah? That Givat Sharett Chesed isn't all tzedaka?

    "If lemaan achai was so great its supporters wouldnt get the jitters by something that someone who supports the kuppa says. it wouldnt be so threatening...."
    ******
    There is a BIG difference between supporters of Lema'an Achai whining and official reps of Kupa spreading falsehoods. If someone comes to my door each month for Kupa he is a rep. When Rav Eidensohn says things that can be misunderstood..he is representing Kupa.

    "and dont forget overly bitter and uptight supporters. lemaan achai obviously has a lot of them too."
    ******
    Rightly so. You seem to be uptight that people have made references regarding Kupa. Lema'an Achai and its Rabbonim have been under "scrutiny" for much too long. While I don't condone the negative tone of a few of the posters I do understand their pain.

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  20. I actually thought the explanation about the electricity was reasonable. They thought it was going to be cut off and had to print the signs, so they did so assuming nothing would change...

    and even if the winter fund was full, all of the sudden to be hit with a big expense that can run in the thousands of shekels can be a big dent... maybe all those winter funds were already earmarked for other things...

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  21. This Shefa Shuk issue is a very important point.

    If Shefa Shuk is truly blocking Lema'an Achai or any other organization we must stand up!Let them know that we'll take our business elsewhere.

    Has anyone out there spoken to Lema'an Achai and or Shefa Shuk to see if this is true?

    Maybe this 10K donation per month is what has raised all of the prices in Shefa Shuk!

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  22. Rafi,

    Thank you for your blog and all of the hard work that goes behind it.

    However-I can't see the chashmal answer as reasonable.

    1) The notices didn't come the day that they were shut off..it happens after some time.

    2) The truth would have been just as compelling..."Help us prevent the shut off of electricity" and saved Kupa alot of "face"

    3) Why has it taken so long for this. If this was the case anyone from Kupa could have answered this weeks ago.

    Allowing such license in collecting funds could open the door for wholesale "stretching the truth".

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  23. So you should also give to Lema'an Achai. They have special donors for their overhead costs. All of your money will also go to help their needy.


    so many ways to respond to this.
    1 - i actually DO give evenly to these 2 groups
    2 - i wish i could but with the dollar so low, im just out of money
    3 - perhaps i have other compelling reasons to give to one organization or another. there are reasons to give to other tzedakahs
    4 - if this is true, why doesnt lemaan achai announce this. honestly, this is the first time i am hearing about this.

    and in fact ALL of the above are true

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  24. I would guess they did not answer the question until now because nobody asked it until now. If you mutter to yourself about it, it does not necessarily mean they heard the question and failed to supply an answer.

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  25. "If Shefa Shuk is truly blocking Lema'an Achai or any other organization we must stand up!Let them know that we'll take our business elsewhere"


    Sure. go to aleph. I am sure they feel reeeeeeeal threatened.

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  26. a long time ago Lmaan Achai did advertise 100% to tzedaka. At a certain point they changed the policy and decided not to use that slogan. I do not remember the details of why. Maybe David or someone else can supply the reason..

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  27. So Rav Eidensohn meant that vaad harabbonim and vaad artzi don't have da'as Torah? That Givat Sharett Chesed isn't all tzedaka?


    There are thousands of tzeddakah organizations in the world. I happen to think that not ALL of them are based on daas torah, nor are they all 100% tzedakkah as some of them have overhead which comes out of MY donation. If lemaan achai is all that, as im sure it is, and you seem to be, why do you think that they are out to get you?

    Guys let it up. You really seem uptight about something, and i have lived in rbs for 3.5 years and i havent heard any of these "rumors" that you claim the kuppa is spreading. all i see is how the LA chevra are on a blog doing the exact same thing that they claim the kuppa is doing - spreading tales that they think are true.

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  28. comments on this post are now closed...
    Thank you all for keeping the tone (semi-)civil..

    ReplyDelete

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