Tonight on FOX: When Meshulchim Attack!
I work mornings at a local frum store, unloading the van and stocking the shelves. It’s decently mundane, we work too early for any excitement to happen. There’s a little shteeble type shul a few doors down (three, to be exact) and a few days ago a fight broke out. Sadly, I was inside at the beginning, but I was there in time to see the fists break out. These two frum guys in black hats were going at it during davening. One of them was Israeli so it was all in rapidfire hebrew, and sadly my hebrew skills have declined since leaving Israel, but I understood enough to hear him say as he backed away after getting his hat and yarmulka knocked off “you think you’re a Jew? You have the soul of a goy!”.
When I say fists of course, I mean it was like an elementary school shuffle with lots of hands flailing and not exactly like Rocky. He backed away shouting that line and got into his car for a quick getaway. I was just standing there eating chips watching the entertainment. After he left, I quizzed a few people to get the gist of what happened: He tried to collect money during davening which is not allowed. He was asked to leave and it escalated from there.
Story two: This past Purim, a mesulach was collecting in shul after shacharis. He spied the matonos laevyonim plate and sidled up to it, dipped his hand in and grabbed a few notes. Someone noticed him and called him out on it. He apologized, saying he thought it was general tzedaka. A few minutes goes by. Sly Mr Meshulach sidles once again to the plate. James Bond-like, he places his hat down ever so subtly on the plate, then lifts up his hat with the plate underneath. My friend saw this and started at him. Guy makes a run for it, only to be tackled in the shul lobby(!) by my friend.
Story three: This happened to my brothers boss. He writes a meshulach a check for $30. Two weeks later he gets a call from the vaad who regulates the meshulach racket asking if he gave this guy $300. Check forging is an ugly business, especially if you’re stupid enough to think you can just add a zero and noone will notice.
Story four: My friend gave a meshulach $20 since he just recieved a paycheck that day and was feeling generous. The next night he sees the guy in the casino.
I’m aware the vast majority of people coming from Eretz Yisroel to collect tzedoka are genuine people looking to raise money for yeshivos or families in need, but when I have four examples of incidents that happened to either me or a close friend (all of these stories are either from me or close friends who were there, none of these are hearsay) it makes me wary. I struggle to pay tuition and the thought of con men getting my tzedoka is sickening.
I pretty much refuse to give to meshulchim anymore, I’d rather my tzedoka money go to local yeshivos and organizations that need it and are part of my community. Sometimes they have chutzpah as well. Someone asked me for more than I gave him. I asked what he was collecting for. He says its to buy his daughter an apartment in Jerusalem. I told him that I rent. If I cant afford to buy myself a house, why am I supposed to give you money for one? If she needs an apartment, let her husband work for it the way I do. The idea of kollel should not be to learn and be supported, especially by people who aren’t any richer themselves. If you can be supported by your family or in-laws, great, but if not, get a job.
Besides, how much of the money they collect goes to pay for the flights from Israel and back? I can’t afford to travel there myself, am I subsidizing your trip?