from The New York Jewish Week:

Sephardim Move To Restructure Charities

In the wake of criminal financial allegations at the top of the Syrian Jewish community’s leadership, the larger Sephardic community is working to reform the way its charities operate, demanding more transparency and oversight, The Jewish Week has learned.

In a series of conference calls and meetings in recent days, Sephardic lay leaders and rabbis have proposed stringent measures that would discourage the widespread practice of individual rabbis holding sole control over discretionary charitable funds, and call for routine audits of charities, sources told The Jewish Week.

At the same time, an international network of 800 donors to Jewish charities – including major family foundations – is considering barring grants to nonprofits that use a federal tax law loophole for religious organizations to avoid filing full financial disclosures.

“We are considering recommending to our members that they demand a higher level of accountability for religious organizations before making grants,” said Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network. “Our community has an obligation to exceed the standards that the government is imposing specifically in the areas of transparency and governance.”