In a previously published exhaustive investigative article that appeared in the Jewish Voice in April of 2013, details emerged about Rabbi Shlomo Braun of the Aleh Foundation of Borough Park, Brooklyn misappropriating funds he claimed were raised for ALEH, a charity based in Bnei Brak, Israel that operates a network of facilities that provide care for hundreds of severely disabled children. Braun’s Aleh Foundation reported a total of $1,340,102 in contributions to the IRS for the years 2010 and 2011, but only sent ALEH of Israel $152,000. Where the location of the $1 million plus that Rabbi Braun never sent to ALEH remains an unsolved mystery. A year after The Jewish Voice’s exclusive report on the dubious business practices of Rabbi Braun, he has not only continued to ignore ALEH’s requests to cease using their name and images on his website and marketing materials, but he’s still raising money on their behalf.
On May 21st, Rabbi Braun is hosting a fundraiser at the Museum Of Jewish Heritage, honoring, among others, former Congressman Robert Turner (R) of New York’s ninth district – the district formerly represented by Anthony Weiner.
The other honorees include Rabbi Dr. Henry Hasson who will receive the Special Achievement Award. Vincent Calamia, SM, MD, FACP, who will receive the Medical Leadership Award, David A. Staffenberg, MD who will be honored with the Physician of the Year Award. The dinner will be held in the memory of Dr. Irving and Elaine Shapiro, OBM.
The Jewish Voice contacted Rep. Turner and e-mailed him all the damning evidence on the Aleh Foundation’s fundraising practices and asked him to consider withdrawing his name and presence from the upcoming event. The information sent to Rep. Turner pointed to the fact that the very charity Rabbi Braun claims to be raising money for has clearly stated on its website that “ALEH’s Israel-based network of facilities for severely disabled children is in no way affiliated with the Aleh Foundation of Brooklyn, NY run by Rabbi Shlomo Braun.”
Since there is no association between the two groups that bear the same name and Rep. Turner’s name is now connected to the Aleh Foundation in Brooklyn, we thought it best to make him aware of precisely what he is participating in and lending credence to. We will leave it up to Rep. Turner to make the final decision.
According to a statement released to The Jewish Voice by Elie Klein of Finn Partners, (a PR consultant in Israel who represents ALEH in that country), he has been monitoring the problems with Aleh Foundation and ALEH in Israel for a while. It would appear that Rabbi Braun has no intention of respecting ALEH’s wishes that he stop defrauding potential donors. “Following the piece in The Jewish Voice, the Aleh Foundation got very quiet and even removed a few pages from their website that contained information that was entirely untrue,” Mr. Klein said in email to the Jewish Voice. “At that time (end of November 2013), ALEH was very hopeful as they thought that the Aleh Foundation might actually give up and go away. Unfortunately, that was not the case at all. The Aleh Foundation was just taking a break.”
When Mr. Klein called Rabbi Braun’s office last month in search of answers, Mt. Klein asked Rabbi Braun directly if he had contacted the correct place to donate if he wanted to make sure his donation reached the kids in Israel. According to Mr. Klein, Rabbi Braun said yes.
When Mr. Klein asked about the article in the Jewish Voice that stated that ALEH and Aleh Foundation are no longer affiliated, Mr. Klein said Rabbi Braun denied that the two organizations had parted ways. Mr. Klein didn’t mention to Rabbi Braun the unambiguous statement on ALEH’s website that “ALEH officially broke ties with Rabbi Braun and the Aleh Foundation in January 2010,” and when he asked Rabbi Braun where the Jewish Voice would get information about a split if it wasn’t true, Rabbi Braun, according to Mr. Klein, blamed the Jewish National Fund for trying to disband the American fundraising entity.
Mr. Klein also asked if there was any basis to the claims that ALEH in Israel and the Aleh Foundation were on bad terms. Rabbi Braun, Klein asserted, said it wasn’t possible because the Aleh Foundation gave ALEH $200,000 last year – a claim denied by ALEH in Israel through its spokesman, Rabbi Mermelstein. Rabbi Braun also assured Mr. Klein that donations made online at Rabbi Braun’s alehfoundationusa.org website, would be used to help severely disabled children in Israel.
Since the Jewish Voice published the expose over a year ago, ALEH in Israel has remained mostly reticent on the issue of Rabbi Braun’s persistent fraud and betrayal of the cause he allegedly cares about. Many significant players in the charity world believe that ALEH would rather suffer Braun’s mishandling of funds than call more attention to the ongoing feud.
The mere perception of impropriety on ALEH’s behalf – however undeserved – due to Rabbi Braun’s mendacity is more than enough to repel potential donors, and send them and their check books flocking to other charities and causes that have been approved as reputable and legitimate.
Rabbi Braun’s ability to raise enough money to throw glittering, gala events at such elegant and costly venues as the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan while honoring members of the United States Congress is a testament to his adroitness as a fundraiser. His callous indifference to the plight of hundreds of disabled children in Israel that he purports to raise money for is actually harming and is a testament to his predatory avarice.
For those readers wishing to make their voices heard about this unfortunate situation, you can contact Rabbi Shlomo Braun at [email protected] or 718-851-4596 to let him know his deception will no longer be tolerated
Go here to read the original Jewish Voice exclusive report on Braun and his Aleh Foundation: http://tinyurl.com/lt5h48e