- Exploiting A Tragedy
12/19/2012 - 21:24
Rabbi Jason Miller
Noah Pozner was the youngest of the 1st grade victims at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Noah Pozner was the youngest of the 1st grade victims at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

When the names of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut were announced, Jewish media outlets immediately published articles about the youngest victim Noah Pozner, the 6-year-old who was laid to rest earlier this week in a traditional Jewish funeral.

As if the story of this tragedy couldn't get any worse news reports have surfaced that individuals have sought to capitalize off the Pozner family's heartache. A man named Jason Martin rushed to purchase the internet domain After the Pozner family had the website transferred to its ownership, Victoria Haller, Noah's aunt, emailed Martin. He wrote back that he'd meant "to somehow honor Noah and help promote a safer gun culture. I had no ill intentions I assure you."

The purchase of wasn't the least of the surprising acts done by individuals not associated with the Pozner family. It was what was published on that website. Adding to the grieving family's sorrow, someone the family didn't know began soliciting donations in Noah's memory, claiming that they would send any cards, packages and money collected to his parents and siblings. An official-looking website had been set up at, even including petitions on gun control.

According to an AP story, Noah Pozner's uncle, Alexis Haller, "called on law enforcement authorities to seek out these despicable people. These scammers are stealing from the families of victims of this horrible tragedy." Noah Pozner's family learned of the scam after a friend received an email asking for money for the family. The email was poorly punctuated and listed an address for donations with which the Pozners where unfamiliar.

While scams such as this one against the Pozners are all too common following a tragedy, it is still disturbing to the majority of people who live ethically. It is also outrageous that this family in mourning should have to deal with such a travesty and be hassled with having to deal with these scammers.

Ken Berger, the president and CEO of Charity Navigator, was quoted in the AP article. He said, "It's abominable. It's just the lowest kind of thievery." now directs to the proper site,, which features the eulogy his mother delivered at his funeral as well as several photos of the adorable 6-year-old who loved tacos. Donations to Noah's Ark of Hope can be made on the site and a disclaimer clearly states that "This is the only official website for payment to directly and solely benefit the siblings of Noah Pozner."

Rabbi Jason Miller is The New York Jewish Week's technology writer. He is a blogger, educator and entrepreneur who is president of Access Computer Technology in Michigan. Follow him on Twitter at @RabbiJason.

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This seems to be the direct opinion of the parents:

Not surprised that this happened.

My wife and I decided to organize an effort to plant a garden of trees in Israel in memory of all those who were slaughtered - not just Noah. We are almost at the $10,000 mark. If anyone wants to participate in this effort please open:

Speaking of exploiting a tragedy, Victoria Haller herself was soliciting donations to her personal paypal account within 24 hours of the shooting. Check her feed on twitter under the name VDog.

Yes of course Victoria Haller was exploiting our tragedy. She went on CNN talking about Noah as if she raised him. She only met him 3 times and was not involved in any of our lives until this opportunity for attention came along.

I am not sure what your intention, Anonymous, is in stating that Noah's aunt was reaching out to her network, solliciting their help as it may have been a hardship - on top of trying to process the news - to be living on the other side of the continent, and having to make arrangements over the week-end to be able to properly attend such a heartwrenching funeral.

I would not call this "exploiting a tragedy". That she may not have measured the impact of her speaking publicly of her need to get her friends help her financially before the family could arrange for "official website" to be put up is certainly something I would not blame her for. This tragedy has an unprecedented level of horror, and noone is ever prepared to react in a fashion that is not attract blame and comments.

I find that the Pozner family did the best they could do in such horrible circumstances, and we should be fully supportive. Their grief and bereavement will need that support. A loving support, not a criticizing one. On top of having to deal with horrible scammers.

Otir, you are mistaken on many levels. Victoria Haller NEVER attended the funeral of Noah Pozner. She made a lot of noise about sending drawings to CT. She brought in a news crew into her home to film them toasting tacos with a giant smiles while her announces how he "latched on to..." this event. Exploitation!

good reporting, jason. and how despicable of that internet scammer -- i hope he'll be prosecuted.

Anonymous 11:29: i just tried it -- the redirect from the .com to the .org works fine. no need for a correction.

the OFFICIAL website is NOT .com!! Please correct your post!!!

As the article clearly states, and as you would know if you tried, now redirects to So relax.

Not right