Aish Ha Torah Executive Looted $20 Million?

UPDATE: Jacob Fetman’s rejoinder.

From FailedMessiah:

CFO Allegedly Embezzled $20 Million From Aish HaTorah New York

Jacob “Yaakov” Fetman allegedly stole $20 million from Aish HaTorah New York over a 17-year period ending last year, and the beit din ruling against him ended up in secular court.

Jacob “Yaakov” Fetman allegedly stole $20,000,000 from Aish HaTorah New York over a 17-year period ending last year using secret bank accounts opened in Aish’s name and other means, and the beit din ruling against him ended up in secular court, where most of it was upheld.

Read the secular court’s decision, issued late last month, here.

Here are some comments on FM:

* I wonder if he used Torah codes to encrypt the bank accounts.

* So when the Rabbis want their money, they are OK with secular courts, but for the average Joe Jew who wants enforcement to go with a bet din ruling, the secular courts are forbidden?

* This chilul Hashem will be fodder for the secular media and will do terrible damage to Aish’s reputation and fundraising capacity. I just looked at Aish NY’s 2012 tax return. Signed by Fetman. They raised approximately $4.6 million in 2012. No wonder they needed to turn to arkayos to collect.

* What kind of joke of an outfit has no controls in place or audits able to identify a problem allegedly taking place for 17 years?

Here are the salaries from Aish New York’s 990 form filing with

* Kenneth Greenman, executive director, made: ~$195,000
* Nicholas Davidson: $90,000
* Jacob Fetman: $91,000
* Wayne Goldhar: ~$100,000
* Yaakov Giniger: ~$56,000
* Josh Winter, ~$61,000
* David Markowitz: ~$113,000
* Matt Tropp: ~$115,000
* David Steinberg: ~$72,000
* Michael Nordman: ~$51,000
* David Rabinowitz: ~$68,000

Aish International lists Richart Rabinowitz as executive director with compensation for 2012 of $210,000.

UPDATE: Jacob Fetman petitioned the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Kings County, to hear his appeal and it was denied by Justice Demarest.

Jacob Fetman maintains he is innocent. He says on an invite-only blog that “Aish NY used a sham ‘rabbinical arbitration’ that after 3 meetings decided I owe 20 million dollars!”

UPDATE JULY 22, 2015:

A source emails:

With regards to the allegations against Jacob Fetman, an attorney familiar with the case points out that Justice Demarest in her decision to confirm Rabbi Cohen’s award of $20,000,000 (twenty million dollars), made it clear that she did not review the merits of the case – her focus was to confirm or reject this award. As it is the public policy in NY state to uphold arbitration awards and because of the fact that there were no transcripts of the arbitration sessions (4 sessions totaling 140 minutes) she had no choice but to confirm the award – despite her reservations about Fetman’s allegations of the many violations of his Due Process. For example, in court it was acknowledged that a forensic report, which R’ Cohen bases his award on, was never provided to Fetman and in fact, once the judge ordered Aish to produce it (April 25, 2015 – almost 18 months after the award was issued), it was found to be dated AFTER the last session and on the date of the AWARD. Clearly, there was no chance for Fetman to dispute any of its ‘findings’.

It is note worthy that a criminal complaint which was alleged by Aish against Jacob Fetman is still pending in Brooklyn Supreme court for the alleged theft of $236,000 over five years – Mr. Fetman plead Not Guilty to this allegation and a trial is pending.

While Aish is a wonderful organization, with a very important mission, in court papers it was alleged by Fetman that executive compensation was substantially under reported and disguised as activities. Rabbi Greenman’s compensation over 2012 reported as (aish 990 filing) $101,409 taxable income and an additional $94,000 non taxable income was in fact almost double that. David Markowitz’s taxable compensation of $62,500 with an additional $50,000 non taxable compensation was in fact about $150,000. 2013 reported income for Rabbi Greenman was $118,310 taxable and combined compensation (with non taxable compensation) $216,929. Aish chose not to divulge any other executive compensation.

If the allegation against Fetman is correct – Aish NY, an organization with an internal budget of about $3 million dollars annually could have not “noticed” that $1.2 million annually was being stolen from it?? Why is it that Aish will not submit to examination of the ‘forensic report’ – what was the rush to issue an award when an attorney intervened on behalf of Fetman?

See attached Justice Demarest’s decision that Aish must produce the ‘forensic report’ to Fetman – when it was acknowledged that Fetman never received it. The award was issued 12/17/2013 – This decision by the court is 4/25/2015.

See the attached DA statement – Aish NY used Fetman and Merkaz the Center as a funnel to transfer monies from Project Inspire to Aish NY. Hundreds of thousand of dollars were transferred this way.

Lastly, see Dan Stein’s (Fetman’s original attorney and now the Chief of the Criminal Division at the US attorney General’s Office NY Western District) letter to R’ Cohen right after the award was issued and another letter to Mel Zachter, a noted accountant who agreed to examine the ‘forensic report’ but Aish never agreed.

R. Cohen’s decision states that Fetman took property from Aish which was proven in court that those properties were purchased prior to Fetman even working at Aish. That part of the award was struck out by the judge. The confirmation is pending an appeal.


As a recent article in the Forward states – its well known that Courts rubber stamp arbitration awards. Rabbi Greenman and his excellent attorneys took advantage of this perfectly.

G – Dan Stein letter to R Cohen 12 27 2013 Mel Zachter agreement 5 30 2014 brooklyn DA press release Jacob-Fetman-grand-larceny-indictment decision of judge demarest that aish must get me the report before the beis din session

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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