Saturday, October 22, 2016

Lawsuit Claims Kars4Kids Is Using Shell Synagogue To Hide Financial Dealings

Last week, an Orthodox synagogue, Young Israel of Eltingville, filed suit in a New York state trial court against the charity Kars4Kids alleging that the charity is improperly attempting to take over the synagogue located on Staten Island and use it to avoid filings with the Internal Revenue Service. The Forward, PixIIThe Gothamist and an earlier New York Post article all report on the lawsuit and its background. In 2007, a former president of the synagogue-- attempting to save it from financial collapse-- entered an arrangement with Oorah, Inc., an Orthodox Jewish charity affiliated with Kars4Kids.  Oorah's name was placed on the deed to the synagogue in exchange for $250,000 and upgrades to the building. Young Israel says that the arrangement was for it to continue to used the sanctuary for worship, while Oorah would use the rest of the building for a preschool and adult classes.  An earlier dispute over whether Young Israel owes Oorah for some of the renovations is in state court after a religious court awarded Oorah $1 million.

In 2008, Rabbi Eliyahu Mintz, president of Oorah and Kars4Kids, incorporated Congregation Oorah and listed its place of worship as the Young Israel synagogue, even though Congregation Oorah apparently conducts no religious services.  In last week's lawsuit, Young Israel alleges that all of this was undertaken to create an entity that is exempt from filing Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service. This, it is alleged, would allow Kars4Kids, which has a history of questionable financial dealings, to use Congregation Oorah to hide its activities.