Is He Beacon for the Jews of Lithuania?

Activist Harley Felstein Leaves Trail of Critics and Questions

Cleaning Up: Reve. Mindaugas Diksaitis, right, a volunteer associated with Harley Felstein, leads a group cleaning up a Jewish cemetery in Lithuania.
courtesy of harley felstein
Cleaning Up: Reve. Mindaugas Diksaitis, right, a volunteer associated with Harley Felstein, leads a group cleaning up a Jewish cemetery in Lithuania.

By Paul Berger

Published July 30, 2012, issue of August 03, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 7)

When the Forward followed up with Karimi two weeks later, on July 13, Karimi said he never spoke to Felstein and that no payment had arrived.

Other businesses have sued Felstein for nonpayment of his debts.

Felstein was a defendant in three civil lawsuits in Maryland last year. Two of those suits related to the Jewish Cemetery Renewal Project of North America, a not-for-profit Felstein incorporated in 2011 with the aim of identifying “Jewish cemeteries which are abandoned or in distressed shape.”

A consulting firm settled out of court in a suit over unpaid invoices totaling almost $2,000. A computer consulting company won a $5,000 lawsuit against Felstein for unpaid invoices.

Felstein lost a third lawsuit brought by a debt buyer, First Resolution Investment Corporation, related to more than $6,000 he owed from the time he lived in Oregon, where he ran a company called Premier Israeli Products. Felstein filed for personal bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Oregon, in 2008, the same year that he moved to Maryland.

Separately, the Lithuanian Jewish Heritage Project has come to the attention of Maryland charities officials.

Last September, Felstein organized a concert at Tifereth Israel Congregation, in Washington, where five cantors performed in front of an audience of about 175 people. Tickets cost between $35 and $75.

Michael Schlein, a charities investigator in the Office of the Maryland Secretary of State, said that because Felstein has not filed fundraising paperwork with the Maryland secretary of state he is not allowed to solicit contributions.

“It’s illegal,” Schlein said. “The Lithuanian Jewish Heritage Project and the Sunflower Project, if a part thereof, shouldn’t be soliciting any money and should not be [part of] any charitable appeals.”

Felstein said the event did not count as a fundraiser because it didn’t make a profit.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Kosovo's centuries-old Jewish community is down to a few dozen. In a nation where the population is 90% Muslim, they are proud their past — and wonder why Israel won't recognize their state. http://jd.fo/h4wK0
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.