The Orthodox Charitable Sector and Red Lines

from The Jewish Chronicle (London):

‘Pay for me and I’ll pray for you’

“Children are pure-hearted; they haven’t sinned; their prayers are unlike yours or mine”, declares the Orthodox author Tziporah Heller in a video for an extremely troubling Jewish fundraising campaign.

Here is the deal: go on to the website of the Israeli charity, Yad Ezra V’Shulamit, input the name of a person in need of divine assistance, make a donation by credit card, and the impoverished children for whom it provides hot meals will intercede with God from the Western Wall on your behalf.

“Yad Ezra V’Shulamit can change things for you,” promises Rebbetzen Heller. “Could you imagine what merit having children pray for you at the Kotel will have on your life?” Yad Ezra V’Shulamit is a great charity which provides meals and educational help for poor children, food packages for poor families, and operates soup kitchens. But the end does not always justify the means and this particular fundraiser, originally a High Holyday campaign but still open for business online, is truly outrageous. Entrusted with children who need to be cared for, this organisation, it seems to me, is nothing less than spiritually pimping their young charges.

… While this pounds-for-prayer campaign is the most outrageous I have seen, there are many Orthodox-run charities that promise all sorts of miracles and divine interventions for donations. The religious media are full of charity ads making fantastical promises. One Israeli charity has recently been offering bottles of wine blessed by a renowned rabbi, the drinking of which will bring you all kind of unimaginable benefits.

Interestingly, Yad Ezra V’Shulamit has highlighted the urgent need for the Orthodox charitable sector seriously to discuss red lines and come up with a statement of ethical campaigning principles agreed upon by charities.