Scandals in Jewish Organizations

Last week, the longtime CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, William Rapfogel, was fired amid allegations of financial malfeasance. While certainly not an everyday occurrence, Jewish organizations are no strangers to scandal of varying kings.

In 1993, the FBI raided the offices of the Anti-Defamation League on suspicion the group had illegally obtained information on numerous organizations, including the NAACP, ACLU and Jews for Jesus. The bureau also conducted a search of the computer of Roy Bullock, an ADL informant, and found that he had compiled files on 9,876 individuals and more than 950 groups across the political spectrum, much of the information obtained through illegal means like wiretaps. The ADL distanced itself from Bullock and settled out of court. The league promised better regulation of its sources and agreed to pay the legal fees of the organizations it had monitored.


In 2001, an anonymous letter drew attention to several suspicious restitution claims filed with the Claims Conference. But despite two probes of the cases, a massive fraud scheme eventually totaling $57 million went undetected. Only later was it revealed that Claims Conference employee Semen Domnitser was running a scheme that paid out millions in fraudulent payments over 16 years.

In 2004, allegations arose that Lawrence Franklin, a former employee of the Department of Defense, passed information to Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, both employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Both men were later fired by AIPAC and indicted for conspiring to pass classified information to Israel. The case against them was eventually dismissed. Franklin pleaded guilty in 2005.

This year, two separate scandals embroiled the 92nd Street Y, a major Jewish cultural institution in Manhattan. Longtime director Sol Adler was fired after it emerged that he was having an affair with his assistant, Catherine Marto, the center’s liaison for board and donor relations. Marto herself was fired as well after failing to provide satisfactory answers to an inquiry concerning her son-in-law, Sal Taddeo, a former Y employee who allegedly received kickbacks from vendors.

Joe Winkler is the online coordinator for JTA.