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Hadassah probing top officials on allegations of misusing funds

NEW YORK (JTA) — Two top Hadassah officials are being investigated by the organization for possible misuse of funds.

The probe was launched after board members of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America were sent a letter on Jan. 12 by the organization’s chief operating officer, Larry Blum, alleging that Hadassah national president Marcie Natan and former national president Nancy Falchuk had used organizational assets for personal use.

“Never have I ever been ashamed to say ‘I worked for Hadassah’ until now,” Blum wrote in his letter. “Individuals’ interests have been put ahead of mission and politics have replaced Jewish Values.”

Blum has been on administrative leave since last fall following allegations that he had misused his corporate credit card. In his letter, Blum denied the allegations against him. A copy of Blum’s letter was obtained by JTA, and the investigation was first reported by the Forward.

Blum alleged that Natan, who was treasurer until she became Hadassah’s president last summer, approved flight upgrades and extra hotel expenditures in Israel for Hadassah board members who supported her candidacy for president. He also alleged that Falchuk used a corporate credit card for entertainment and personal trips to Florida and moved “furniture and fixtures” valued at $10,000 to $20,000 from Hadassah’s corporate apartment to her own home without the approval of senior leadership.

Through a spokesman Natan declined to comment, and Falchuk, who is also a JTA board member, did not return calls seeking comment.

In a statement, Hadassah said that it had retained an external, independent investigator to look into Blum’s allegations. It also said that the probe of Blum’s use of his corporate credit card continues.

“Those inquiries are ongoing and no conclusions have been reached,” the statement said.

The Forward reported that the outside investigator looking into the charges against Natan and Falchuk is attorney Daniel Kurtz, who heads the nonprofit law practice at the New York-based law firm of Skadden, Arps.

“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,” Natan and Falchuk wrote in a letter to Hadassah board members. “We ask for everyone’s patience during this time.”

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