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?

20 Responses to “Tonight on FOX: When Meshulchim Attack!”

  1. A couple of weeks ago a meshulach came to my apartment door. My husband wasn’t home at the time, so I told the guy that, hoping it would make him go away since according to some women don’t actually have any of their own money. That didn’t turn him away though and he kept asking. Since I’m a softy, I finally grabbed a few bucks and gave it to him. I’m with you though. I’m not a big fan of meshulachim. I feel like I can’t trust them and would rather my money go some place in my community than to some random dude with a paper that I can’t read.

  2. In the community where I live (Baltimore) there is a system where the collectors are supposed to go the Rav of the Agudah shul and get approved (they do some sort of quick investigation to try to ensure that the person is collecting for a legit. cause) for a laminated card that gives a recommended amount for donation. The card “expires” after a week and you are not supposed to give anything if it is not current. It’s not totally foolproof, but it’s something.
    I’ve heard stories about check forgeries so in my family it’s cash only; I’ll only write out a check if I am mailing a donation.

  3. And I hear you on the apartment buying thing. I’d rather give money to someone who comes to collect for medical reasons or loss of a job or something like that. But that’s the fallout of the system of the charedi lifestyle in Israel. I feel bad for the people who are “stuck” in the system and can’t break out (well, not that bad, I have to admit). I heard from an Israeli woman recently that there are many families in Israel where there are several unmarried children in their 20’s or older because the parents don’t have the money to buy an apartment. Evidently, the going “rate” for the right type of best boy is something like $70,000???

  4. there’s a well known collector in bp collecting for food, clothing, sick husband, kids, ect… 3 years ago she rented a bungalow in the same place my family goes. it’s like 9,000 a summer. her kids had designer clothes dvds, video games, ect. i realize shes probably not typical but that really pissed me off.

    header=bouncing souls? just curious

  5. these stories make me so sad :(. Nothing like this has happened to me directly. I’ve heard these stories from other people.

    My parents stopped giving to people in the streets and organizations who provide Kollel families money. Everytime a telemarketer calls, my parents are like “Do you guys give to kollel?” and if they person says Yes m y parents so “no, sorry, we don’t support that lifestyle”

    My rabbi hates it. But it is truly more important to give someone that is unable to make their own money (sick/disabled, went bankrupt for the time being, or something like that).

  6. Starr: I’ve heard that too and its very sad. Only in the frum world do we clamor to find a boy with no money or prospects and throw money at him because he learns better. It was less than 100 years ago that the Chofetz Chaim would learn while running his shop.

    Stacy: Yes, it is a take-off from the heilegeh Jumping Neshamos. I generally go with whatever I’m listening to at the time, and The Gold Record has been on repeat.

    Anita: I find that a bit odd but understandable.

  7. Thank you Stacy! I knew those lyrics sounded familiar, but I could not figure out where I knew them from.

  8. Except that those arent actually the lyrics! I realized this morning that I got them wrong. It should be:

    “I heard someone say
    that nothing gold can stay
    But there’s a love in all our souls
    and it shines like gold”

    I like mine better though. I think I have the second part from another song but I don’t know which.

  9. No wonder when I tried googling the lyrics I got nothing (except a bunch of gospel songs, lol)

  10. i thought you did that on purpose. lol
    the second part kinda sounds like a stevie wonder song

  11. With the advent of bein hazmanim we get yeshiva guys collecting in our neighborhood in addition to the usual meshulachim. So the other day (I happened to be off from work) I opened the door to two young yeshiva guys. They were very taken aback to see me (guess they were expecting a middle aged homemaker), and one of them stammered out something like, “Is your mother home?”
    Now I happen to look quite a bit younger than I actually am, and was definitely dressed down in a sweatshirt and denim skirt, but even so that sort of took me by surprise (the usual meshulachim have no such scruples!). So my first impulse was to say, “Hon, I must be close to ten years older than you, I think I can take a look at your card without getting my mother” but that would’ve been too mean, so I restrained myself. They were embarrassed enough as it was being in such close proximity to a girl they assumed to be around their age.
    So I just said, “It’s okay, I can take a look at your card myself” and completed the whole transaction as quickly as I could to their evident relief.

  12. Nice one starr, its good to look younger than your age. You’ll love it when you’re 45 and look 35.
    I’ve never had Yeshiva guys. What are they collecting for? Their yeshivos, or poor families for Pesach?

  13. For their yeshiva, of course.
    But since I was trying to move things along I didn’t take the time to read the name of their institution.

  14. […] ARE YOU? There was a great comment today from ‘That Girl‘ On my Meshulchim […]

  15. […] Punk wants meshulachim to have some sort of etiquette- good […]

  16. I always wonder if it counts as tzedakah if you just give a meshulach money so he’ll go away and leave you alone. Your motive isn’t really very pure…

  17. As far as I understand it, tzedokah counts if you give no matter the reasons or even if its legit or not.

  18. […] Free Isn’t Enough This is basically a follow-up to my now classic “When Meshulchim Attack” […]

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