Agudath Israel Compliance Seminars Expand to the Midwest


agudah-seminarA workshop dedicated to legal issues pertaining to Orthodox schools, synagogues and charitable organizations was held on Sunday, April 25th in Cleveland, Ohio. More than 50 attendees, representing 30 different institutions, filled Heights Jewish Center for the three-hour program.

The seminar marked an expansion of Agudath Israel of America’s broad efforts to educate the Orthodox community about the intricacies of U.S. federal and state law as it pertains to non-profits and for-profit corporations.

The workshop was addressed by Harry M. Brown, Esq., partner at the law firm of Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP, and Yehuda Kupfer, Esq., staff counsel at Agudath Israel of America’s national headquarters in New York. Agudath Israel’s Ohio Regional Director, Rabbi A.D. Motzen, coordinated the event and offered introductory remarks.

Rabbi Motzen commended the attendees for demonstrating that they take their fiduciary responsibilities seriously. “As Orthodox Jews,” he said, “we must be the model of integrity.”

Mr. Kupfer addressed the issue of charitable contributions, relevant topics in criminal law, and regulatory/licensing requirements for certain financial activities. Participants praised his “informative presentation” and clear explanations of complex legal topics.

Mr. Brown followed with an entertaining but practical discussion of not-for-profit/tax-exempt issues and corporate formalities. “The ability to operate as a nonprofit is a privilege, not a right,” said Brown. “In order to benefit from those privileges, the burden is on you to prove compliance.”

The session continued with Mr. Kupfer delivering a detailed explanation of parsonage and Qualified Tuition Reduction Programs. For many participants this was the most helpful part of the lecture, as the intricacies of the tax law can be quite complicated and are often misunderstood. The workshop ended with a question and answer period.

The recurring feedback was that three hours was simply not long enough, and “we should have these seminars again.” Participants, in fact, remained to ask questions for almost 30 minutes after the session ended.

Attendees went home with useful handout materials, as well as a resource CD-ROM loaded with more than 100 MB of helpful legal, tax, and accounting topics relevant to non-profit organizations. Members of the public interested in purchasing a recording of Sunday’s workshop can e-mail or call 847 674-4000 ext. “307.

“We hope to bring this workshop to other cities in the Midwest,” said Rabbi Motzen. “The next stop is Chicago on May 11, and we look forward to working with other interested communities in the future.”

{Noam Newscenter}