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Well Intentioned, But Not Recommended - My Final Thoughts on Kol Yisroel Areivim
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

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5/27/10

Note to Our Readers:

The Monsey-based Areivim Program, led by Rabbi Shmuel Gluck, who is a regular contributor to this website, does extraordinary work with teens at risk and is not affiliated in any way with any of the three Areivim life insurance programs.

I warmly and proudly endorse the Monsey Arevim teen program -- as a resource for parents and as an excellent venue for your charity dollars.

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Areivim has done an outstanding job of raising public consciousness about the matter of uninsured members of our community and the need to find a better way to do things other than the heartbreaking campaigns that regularly occur – and for this we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

As you can see from my correspondence with Areivim, I proceeded with the utmost respect for their efforts, and merely wanted to conduct my diligence regarding their very well-intentioned project. The two members of Kol Yisrael Areivim’s leadership with whom I met are polite, energetic people who are clearly motivated to help the klal – and are genuinely interested in receiving feedback. They have both invested enormous amounts of time and effort in this project and have been wildly successful in raising awareness about a critical subject.

Unfortunately, the more I looked into the organization, the more issues presented themselves. All the while, I was contacted by numerous professionals and community leaders who felt that the model created is too problematic and they encouraged me to share that information with Areivim and with my readers. Therefore, with a heavy heart, I advise all my readers who are subscribed or contributors to Kol Yisroel Areivim to dissolve your relationship with them – and it would probably be wise to do so in writing and by certified mail with return receipt requested, so you can have proof of your disassociation.

This past Monday I prepared and submitted an op-ed column that was to run in this week’s Jewish Press with the above recommendation, and as per my arrangement with The Jewish Press, would have posted it yesterday after the issue was on the newsstands.

Very late Monday night, I got a call from the American Director of Va’ad HaRabbonim asking me to meet with him personally before I run the column. In the interest of fairness, and despite the fact that it was unfair to The Jewish Press to leave them with an empty slot at publication time, I cancelled the column (it will run next week) and met with him yesterday. However, the meeting only reinforced and amplified my concerns many times over.

I do not feel that this public and permanent forum is the venue to air details of the concerns raised by the professionals with whom I spoke, but should any of this be relevant to you personally, kindly drop my assistant an email at cbecker@rabbihorowitz.com and she will be glad to email you a one-pager that I prepared with more information.

All this is separate and aside from the fact that there is little transparency or leadership information on any of the Areivim programs (For example, the fellow who I met yesterday does not have his name on any Vaad Harabbanim or Areivim ads.) and the mishmash of the three different Areivim programs makes them all less tenable.

Finally, many of the “endorsements” are, at the very best, flimsy. Agudath Israel never endorsed Areivim at any time (although individual Moetzes members seem to have signed support letters), and leadership of The Young Israel and The Orthodox Union (OU) sent me statements clearly indicating that they do not support any Areivim programs. And in the short time since Mr. Bochner sent me the names of individuals who are purportedly Board members of Areivim; three of them – Abe Biderman, Yatty Weinreb, and Abe Roth personally contacted me and said they were never involved with any Areivim programs.

At the end of my meeting with the Director of the Va’ad Harabbonim last night, I shared with him my thoughts for a constructive, uncomplicated and completely legal way of addressing this matter. I also offered my full support and backing if Kol Yisroel Areivim were to immediately move to a program such as described below. However, he responded that he is not sure that this is the way to go, and that even if he did, it would take months to make those adjustments.

“Lo actuary ani v’lo ben actuary,” and obviously this idea needs a great deal of tweaking as I just thought of it yesterday, but here are the broad strokes of what might be the framework of an effective program:

1) Couples meet with a professional life insurance agent and secure policies for one or both parents. Newly married couples should purchase insurance immediately and lock in the rate for as long as possible (the premiums for young healthy people are much lower than they will be at any time later in their lives).

2) Once they receive an acceptance letter from an approved life insurance company, they can submit an application form with their personal financial information to “the organization” requesting full or partial underwriting of their premium.

3) “The organization” will respond to the applicant regarding the status of their application and financial assistance will be made on a sliding scale basis.

4) The applicant remits his/her portion of the premium directly to the insurance company and the remainder of the premium is paid in installments by “The organization” directly to the insurance company.

5) It might be a good idea to encourage healthy living by agreeing to cover those people in higher risk categories, that are within their capacity to remediate, providing that they drop the bad habit (such as smoking; as opposed to a medical precondition or family history).

6) Members of our community are asked to contribute by underwriting the policy of a “partner.”

In order to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest due to my involvement in the Areivim matter, I will not serve in such an endeavor in any capacity whatsoever other than as an unpaid advisor.

I offer this website as a vehicle for parties interested in bringing an idea to fruition to get in touch with each other. In particular, I ask all the wonderful professionals who contacted me with their concerns about Areivim and who would like to be involved in this effort, to to drop an email to my assistant, at cbecker@rabbihorowitz.com and she will get you in touch with one another.

The Brisker Rov zt’l famously stated that one of the main functions of a Rabbi is to advocate for and support the weakest members of his community – to give a voice to the voiceless. I hope that I have fulfilled that sacred responsibility by advocating for the widows and orphans who might fall through the cracks of a well-intentioned but poorly designed safety net at some point in the future.

© 2010, Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

Recommended reading:

The Areivim “Life Insurance” Program

Areivim - Unanswered Questions

Areivim's Response to the" Unanswered Questions"

As a service to the public Project YES is pleased to offer an exciting webinar series presented by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz.

Entitled “Parenting Matters” this two part series will discuss:

Having the “Talk” about Personal Space Before Your Child Leaves for Camp - Thursday evening, June 10th at 10:00 p.m.

The Art of the Deal – Effective Negotiations with your Teen – Thursday evening, June 17th at 10:00 p.m.

See and hear Rabbi Horowitz from the comfort of your own home! Participants will be able to submit questions in advance and take part in this exclusive series over a secure internet connection.

As this is a live, web-based seminar, space is limited. To sign up and receive your login details, email: ProjectYES@pyes.org

The webcast will be available for download after the event.

For more information, please call Project YES at 718.256.5360 ext. 209 or email: ProjectYES@pyes.org

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, and the founder and director of Project YES, a national organization which provides at-risk and pre-risk teens with a teen mentoring program, parent mentoring, an advice help-line, and the website www.rabbihorowitz.com.



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