Thursday, July 23, 2015

Rav Belsky's Beis Din Issues Siruv against Aish HaTorah New York

update: Fetman's Defense

Background - this is related to the alleged embezzlement of $20 million from Aish HaTorah by Yaakov Fetman. That case was arbitrated by Rav Dovid Cohen who ruled in favor of Aish HaTorah. Fetman refused to comply with Rav Dovid Cohen's ruling. Aish HaTorah went to secular court to recover the money - and the secular court supported Rav Cohen's ruling. The following link provides detailed legal documents regarding the matter and clearly supports the position of Aish HaTorah
Legal Documents regarding this case
Forward    $20M Charity Embezzlement Case Shows Power of Rabbinic Courts

In late December 2013, a prominent Brooklyn rabbi made an eye-popping ruling in his rabbinic court: The former chief financial officer of an Orthodox charity called Aish Hatorah New York owed the charity $20 million that he had allegedly stolen.

That startling sum amounted to roughly three times the charity’s annual budget, or more than five times the charity’s net assets. If the former CFO, Jacob Fetman, actually took that much from Aish, it would amount to the largest Jewish charity fraud in recent memory.

What followed the ruling was legal pandemonium, in the form of a year and a half of battles that moved into the secular court system. In the meantime, in December 2014, Brooklyn’s district attorney filed criminal charges against Fetman, alleging that he had embezzled funds from the charity — though the DA charged that he had taken $236,000; a significant sum, to be sure, but a mere fraction of the rabbinic court’s ruling. Fetman has pleaded not guilty to this criminal charge. [...]

The Aish case was seen before Rabbi Dovid Cohen, a highly respected religious scholar who leads Congregation Gvul Yaabetz in Brooklyn.

The decisions of rabbinical courts, like those of any arbitrator, are difficult to amend or reverse in civil courts. In New York, state law allows arbitration awards to be overturned only in cases of corruption, fraud or partiality by the arbitrator, among a handful of other narrow reasons.

“It’s not exactly a rubber stamp, but it’s a pretty flexible stamp,” Resnicoff said. [...]

In late December 2013, Aish Hatorah filed in New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn to enforce the rabbi’s judgment. A judge ruled largely in the charity’s favor in September 2014, upping the judgment to $21.4 million to include interest. Fetman’s attorneys immediately said that they intended to appeal the ruling; those papers are due in late June. In the meantime, the two sides have continued to fight before the original civil court judge, as Fetman’s lawyers have petitioned her to rehear the case. Decisions on at least one of those petitions are still pending. [...]

 Rav Dovid Cohen's letter just received regarding this case 

 Email sent by the Director General of Aish HaTorah
From: Steven Burg
Date: 20 July 2015 03:26:11 BST
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Fwd: HaRav Dovid Cohen on Aish NY vs. Fetman case
Dear Aish Team, 

In response to the many emails that are going around concerning a siruv regarding Aish NY:;

Aish NY's former CFO, who left in 2013, has lost in beis din after admitting guilt and then lost in US Supreme Court of Kings County and very recently lost again on his appeal to retry the case [google: NY Law Journal article] It seems he is now attempting to retry matters of the case in another beis din.

Enclosed, please find a letter from Rav Dovid Cohen expressing his thoughts on another beis din attempting to retry matters.

Below you can see a general outline of the case put together by Aish NY.  If anyone receiving this email feels the need, for any reason, please call HaRav Dovid Cohen to verify this yourself. 
Aish HaTorah Responds to Inquiries Regarding New York State Supreme Court’s Decision Confirming Arbitration Award and Indictment of Former CFO

--Organization pursuing all means of collecting judgment against Jacob Fetman; Remains focused on its mission to reintroduce Jews to their heritage—

New York, New York, July 19, 2015  -- In response to another attempt made by Aish HaTorah NY's former CFO to retry a case that has already been decided,  Rabbonim and attorneys have advised Aish HaTorah NY not to respond to old allegations in a new beis din.

For further clarification:  Aish HaTorah NY, a non-profit organization dedicated to reintroducing Jews to their heritage, confirms that on September 29, 2014, Justice Carolyn Demarest of the New York State Supreme Court, Kings County, granted Aish HaTorah NY’s petition to confirm an arbitration award against Jacob Fetman.  Mr. Fetman previously served as chief financial officer of Aish HaTorah NY for 17 years.  His employment was terminated in October 2013 upon discovery that he had stolen considerable sums of money from the organization during his tenure.

Subsequent to Mr. Fetman’s termination, Aish HaTorah NY and Mr. Fetman mutually agreed to resolve the matter through Rabbinic arbitration, which is binding in the State of New York.  Based on the findings of a forensic accountant and other evidence, the arbitrator ruled on December 17, 2013 that Mr. Fetman owes Aish HaTorah NY $20 million.  In his written ruling, the arbitrator, Rav Dovid Cohen, advised the parties that “all properties and entities that can be traced, that they belong or are controlled by Mr. Fetman can be confiscated by Aish HaTorah” in satisfaction of the ruling.

Mr. Fetman refused to adhere to the arbitrator’s ruling, in turn prompting Aish HaTorah NY to seek and now receive affirmation of the ruling by the New York Supreme Court, Kings County.
A spokesperson for Aish HaTorah NY said, “We presented indisputable evidence before an arbitrator and the New York State Supreme Court, including an admission of guilt, that Mr. Fetman stole considerable sums of money from the organization.  We have now received affirmation of the arbitrator’s award and will pursue all available legal remedies to collect the judgment against Mr. Fetman.”

In addition to seeking legal recourse against Mr. Fetman, Aish HaTorah NY’s Board of Directors engaged the law firm of Patterson Belknap to conduct an independent investigation of the organization’s internal policies, procedures and controls, which have since been bolstered to exceed regulatory requirements, in order to prevent the organization from being victimized in a similar manner in the future.

On December 4, 2014 Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced that Mr. Fetman was indicted for embezzling money from Aish HaTorah NY.

The Board of Directors of Aish NY have said that “We are pleased that the New York State Supreme Court has affirmed the arbitrator’s decision and will pursue all available legal remedies to recoup the organization’s money.   While the Board actively addresses this matter, we want to assure everyone that Aish HaTorah NY is committed to ensuring that its mission – which is dedicated to revitalizing the Jewish world by reintroducing Jews to their heritage through a dynamic and rapidly expanding social and educational network committed to a worldwide renaissance of the Jewish people – is always conducted with honesty and integrity, maintaining the highest values internally, just as it tries to promote these values in those it seeks to guide.  It should be further noted that all actions taken by Aish HaTorah NY and its board of directors have been taken after consultation with Rabbinic authorities and we are following Rabbinic guidance in proceeding forward."
Warm regards,
Steve Burg

Director General - Mankal
Aish HaTorah
One Western Wall Plaza


Dear Rabbi Eidensohn, I am lost here. Are you seriously bringing Rabbi Beslky's Beis Din as an authority? Do you believe that Rabbi Belsky's Beis Din can be viewed as a Beis Din that follows the halacha - not emotion - at all times?

It is important to note:

1) that Rabbi Belsky, in 2004, declared himself as the "Ave Beis Din of Brooklyn" when he attempted to nullify a marriage on what the major poskim termed "laughable grounds".

2) Rabbi Belsky was recorded saying that he permitted Avraham Rubin to be beaten, in Avraham Rubin's absence and Avraham Rubin never agreed to hav Rabbi Belsky, Mordy Wollmark, Medel Epstein and Aryeh Ralbag serve as dayanim for him.

3) Rav Elyashiv said that he permitted married women (women without a valid get) to cohabit with, or marry, other men making their children mamzeirim.

4) Rabbi Belsky is known to be a deeply emotional person with a terrible temper. Can a tempersome person be a dayan?

5) Rabbi Belsky holds the dishonorable distinction of being on Rav Pam's dislike list and it is claimed that they wouldn't even greet each other with a "Good Shabbos", despite the fact that they both worked together in Torah V'daas.

6) Rabbi Belsky's judgment in coming to defense of Dovid Weinberger was highly, and publicly, criticized by the rabbonim of the Five Towns. Can His judgment ever be trusted on its own?

7) Do any of the "dayanim" on Rabbi Belsky's Beis Din have semicha from anyone other than Rabbi Belsky? If so, from whom?

Please excuse me if I misunderstood the post over here.

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