Soup kitchen charity 'also funding Kollel'

By Jessica Elgot, January 12, 2012
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An audit of the operations of troubled Israeli charity Hazon Yeshaya has revealed that its original objectives were to "establish Jewish institutions", despite the fact that its donors believed their money was being used solely for soup kitchens and to help the poor.

Hazon Yeshaya, whose audit was commissioned by a "supporter", said this week that it had been "cleared of fraud" by Israeli accountants Gavriel Isaac CPA.

The charity's website makes no mention of money being directed towards religious institutions. But the audit says the organisation's original objectives included "establishing Jewish religious institutions, synagogues, small and large yeshivahs, kollels, Talmud torah schools", as well as "soup kitchens" and "providing for families in need".

All of these aims were changed in 2008 to the single objective, "a humanitarian chain in the fields of welfare and education to those in need."

However, the audit revealed that the charity has been running a Kollel - an institute for training religious judges and rabbis - for at least two years, and that more than £308,000 has been spent on the project.

It also found that Hazon Yeshaya distributed around 1,500 food baskets a month, half of what it had claimed to be delivering. The audit did confirm that Hazon Yeshaya spends around £3.7 million annually on food for its homeless kitchens and those in need.

The British Friends of Hazon Yeshaya disbanded after the Deloitte auditors they commissioned were unable to complete their report because the charity had not handed over vital documents. Other international chapters have also closed, spearheaded by former supporters in Canada, who commissioned private investigators to look at the charity and claim they have evidence of further improprieties.

Hazon Yeshaya founder and director Abraham Israel said there was "never any substance to the allegations and rumours that spread from former supporters in Canada and the UK".

Last updated: 12:16pm, January 12 2012