Thursday, November 21, 2013

Aleh Foundation at Center of Legal Controversy

According to The Jewish Week, the Brooklyn-based Aleh Foundation is the defendant in a $5 million lawsuit filed by Masha and Shaul Yakobzon, an Israeli couple who moved to New York City about ten years ago to obtain better medical care for their young daughter, Ayalah.  Aleh Foundation allegedly used a photograph of Ayalah to solicit funds, ostensibly to support her family’s efforts to serve her needs.  Says the story:

The only problem is that the Aleh Foundation, which purports to be the American fundraising arm of ALEH, a well-known Israeli charity that provides residential facilities for the disabled, never gave a dime for Ayalah’s care, and it used her likeness fraudulently, according to a $5 million lawsuit filed this fall in Brooklyn Supreme Court.  [The suit claims] … that representatives of the Aleh Foundation never indicated that their daughter’s likeness “might be widely published, disseminated, or otherwise exploited for a fundraising campaign.” And, the parents claim, “No funds, additional special services, products, or monetary assistance of any kind, has been provided” to the family for Ayalah’s care.

And that’s not all.  The story also reports that officials of ALEH, described as “a well-known Israeli charity that provides residential facilities for the disabled,” have been attempting to distance their charity from the Brooklyn entity. The story continues:

For officials at ALEH, who have for three years been trying quietly to get the Aleh Foundation and its longtime head, the politically connected Borough Park rabbi, Shlomo Braun, to stop passing himself off as a representative of the charity, the Yakobzons’ lawsuit is the last straw. And it has pushed what had been a private dispute into public view.


Talking to the media for the first time, in extensive interviews with The Jewish Week, ALEH officials are mounting an offensive against Rabbi Braun in an effort to prevent confusion in the minds of donors about the relationship between the two groups. They allege that Rabbi Braun has funneled only a fraction of the money he has raised on ALEH’s behalf to the organization in Israel. And they claim that he has not provided requested documentation about his fundraising expenses.

The story contains additional details of the history of the two entities and the specific concerns of the representatives of the Israeli charity regarding what they believe to be fundraising irregularities surrounding the Brooklyn entity.  It is also noteworthy that Charity Navigator, which rates the efficiency of nonprofits, has issued a “donor advisory” with respect to the Brooklyn entity because of the lawsuit. 


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