Hadassah, the international women’s Zionist organization, is investigating fraud allegations against two top members of its executive board, the Forward has learned.
The allegations came in a letter sent to the organization’s board members on January 12 by Larry Blum, Hadassah’s top staff member. Blum was placed on administrative leave in November amidst separate charges relating to his alleged misuse of his corporate credit card. He declined comment.
In his letter, Blum accused Hadassah national president Marcie Natan and former national president Nancy Falchuk of misusing Hadassah funds. Both declined to comment on the charges through a Hadassah spokesperson.
Blum alleged that Natan, who was elected as Hadassah’s national president in July, used Hadassah funds to buy favors for members who supported her candidacy for national president. Those favors allegedly included flight upgrades to business class and the unnecessary extension of trips to Israel made on Hadassah business.
Blum charged that Falchuk, who served as Hadassah’s national president from 2007 to 2011, moved furniture and fixtures valued between $10,000 and $20,000 from a Hadassah-owned apartment to her own home without the approval of the organization’s leadership.
Blum also accused Falchuk of charging thousands of dollars in wine, entertainment, and personal trips to Florida to Hadassah’s credit card.
A special whistleblower committee of Hadassah board members is investigating Blum’s charges. The committee has secured Daniel Kurtz, who heads the nonprofit law practice at the Manhattan legal firm Skadden, Arps, as outside counsel. Kurtz has deep experience in charity fraud and is former head of the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau.
In a statement emailed to the Forward, Hadassah said that the investigation of Blum’s allegations and of Blum’s alleged misuse of his corporate credit card was “ongoing.”
“No conclusions have been reached,” the statement read. “Until there is a final resolution, Mr. Blum is on administrative leave.”
Following inquiries from the Forward about the allegations, Natan and Falchuk emailed board members on February 7 to assure them that the charges were “being reviewed by an independent committee with an independent outside investigator.”
“We welcome this review and we are confident that the committee has in place a sensible and fair process for reaching a conclusion as to the allegations and, the appropriate action to take, if any, that will protect the interests of Hadassah, its members, employees and officers,” the two leaders wrote.
Blum has been Hadassah’s chief operating officer for ten years. He has been the group’s highest-ranking staff member since Morlie Levin was laid off as national executive director in 2009.
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This story "Top Hadassah Officials Probed Over Funds" was written by Josh Nathan-Kazis.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.