ZOA Cancels Annual Fundraising Dinner

Scraps Gala as Questions Swirl Over Loss of Tax Status

No Dinner: The Zionist Organization of America has cancelled its annual fundraising dinner, which would normally be the most important event on its schedule.
naomi zeveloff
No Dinner: The Zionist Organization of America has cancelled its annual fundraising dinner, which would normally be the most important event on its schedule.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published October 24, 2012, issue of November 09, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

In her memo, Arfa accused Klein of instructing her to play down the loss of the tax exemption, even after the Forward’s original story was published. Arfa writes that Klein asked her not to explicitly mention the lost exemption in a solicitation letter. “He said mentioning the loss of the tax exempt status will only increase the number of people who know about it, and that not ‘everyone in America’ knows about it,” Arfa wrote.

In a memo sent in response, provided in part to the Forward, Drimer addressed Arfa’s complaints. “I have already been unambiguous with you that neither you nor any other ZOA employee should ever misrepresent the ZOA’s tax status,” Drimer wrote. “We are acting in accordance with independent tax counsel’s advice and direction and we expect you and all other ZOA employees to do the same.”

In an attachment to her original memo, Arfa distributed an email from Jesse Rosenblum, president of the ZOA’s Orange County chapter. In it, Rosenblum stated that he did not know that the ZOA had lost its tax exempt status until he read about it in the Forward.

In a subsequent conversation with the Forward, Rosenblum confirmed the facts stated in the email. He said that the Orange County chapter, which is covered by the national organization’s tax exemption, has a bank account into which chapter members sometimes make donations. But seven months passed between the time that the national office of the ZOA learned that it lost its exemption and the time that Rosenblum became aware that his chapter could no longer accept donations. Rosenblum said that no one had made donations to the account during that period.

“I’m sure they had a lot on their minds,” Rosenblum said. “I hope in no way does this affect the excellent work that the ZOA does in protecting the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Rosenblum said that one of the members of the Orange County board has stepped down at least in part over the exemption issue.

“If he wasn’t informed, it was an oversight,” Drimer said. He said that the national organization spoke directly to the heads of some chapters, that regional directors spoke to others and that some chapter heads who also serve on the national board would have known anyway.

“It is possible that some people were missed,” Drimer said.

ZOA national vice chairman Steven Goldberg, who unsuccessfully pushed the organization in the late summer to publicly disclose the loss of the tax exemption, alleged that the information was kept quiet on purpose. “Nobody was missed inadvertently. There was a deliberate attempt to conceal the loss of tax exempt status as long as possible,” Goldberg said.

According to tax documents the ZOA shared with the Forward, the group had $6.3 million in assets at the end of 2011. The ZOA also owns a building valued at $18 million. Still, Drimer said, the organization has made some cuts to its budget.

The Los Angeles office is closing, and the regional director is going to be asked to work from home. The number of college students the group is sending on an annual leadership trip to Israel is being cut to 15 from 24. And one campus representative position has been allowed to remain empty.

“We are trying to continue, to pursue our mission as vigorously as ever before, but we’re trying to be prudent with our out-of-pocket expenditures,” Drimer said.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or follow him on Twitter@joshnathankazis


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!
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • 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.