Posted by Danielle Berrin
As Bernard Madoff awaits trial in his $10 million Manhattan apartment, non-profit organizations in Israel are closing their doors.
The Chais Family Foundation, which closed its Encino office last Sunday is now closing its Jerusalem satellite. Foundation chair Avraham Infeld told NBC News he got a phone call from the Chais family who said, “You’re gonna have to close down the office, you’re gonna have to fire the staff, and please let everyone know we cannot fulfill another penny of committment.”
Infeld said the foundation’s $250 million endowment is “gone—there’s nothing there.”
There is grave concern that Jewish philanthropists affected by the Madoff scheme may have to curb their support to Israeli universities, hospitals and social service programs.
Watch the NBC Nightly News report
4.27.11 at 10:21 am | Interviewed on the Today Show earlier this week,. . .
2.28.11 at 7:50 pm | NPR interviews NY Magazine editor Steve Fishman. . .
2.16.11 at 10:19 am | Bernard L. Madoff said he never thought the. . .
2.16.11 at 10:18 am | In a lengthly, far reaching article based on. . .
12.11.10 at 11:21 am | Mark Madoff Found Dead
2.25.10 at 9:56 am | The Madoff family is looking for a name change. . .
3.13.09 at 4:47 pm | Your Weekend Assignment: The Three Best Stories. . . (40)
3.14.09 at 10:28 pm | Yes, Jim Cramer is Jewish. But-- sorry to bum. . . (10)
2.25.10 at 9:56 am | The Madoff family is looking for a name change. . . (5)
December 18, 2008 | 10:27 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Since losing $18 million in cash investments—worth $25.5 million on paper at the end of October—the Jewish Community Foundation has emphasized that it is “aggressively pursuing every possible recovery and remedy.” Tomorrow it will make that effort more official when it announces the creation of a special committee charged by the board with recovering the money the foundation invested with Bernard Madoff on behalf of the participants in its common-investment pool. Members of the committee will include foundation Chair Cathy Siegel Weiss and Chair-elect Lorin Fife, as well as a yet-unidentified senior member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
“Even as we remain shocked and appalled by the alleged fraud perpetrated not only on us but hundreds of other victims, The Foundation is moving swiftly and decisively to undertake the level of self-examination and review that is expected of us as stewards of Jewish Los Angeles’ charitable assets for 54 years. We take our role in the community very seriously,” Marvin Schotland, president and chief executive, said in a statement.
Schotland stressed again that losses were limited to the common-investment pool and didn’t affect the donor-advised funds: “We remain highly stable—a hallmark of this foundation.”
Good luck to the special committee. From what I’ve read and heard, it’s going to be a rough road.
December 18, 2008 | 9:50 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
The U.S. government didn’t invest directly in Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. But it could take the biggest hit of all. From the AP:
Even Uncle Sam may get burned by Bernard Madoff. Investors who lost their fortunes in Madoff’s alleged Ponzi scheme will end up paying far less in taxes and may even be eligible for refunds, according to accounting experts. By some estimates, the Internal Revenue Service could be out as much as $17 billion in lost tax revenue.
“This is one more thing federal, state and local officials will have to deal with,” said John Berrie, a tax partner at the law firm Bryan Cave in New York City. “It’s another heavy box on their back.”
December 18, 2008 | 5:28 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
Between $200-$600 million dollars.
That’s one estimate on how much money members of the Minneapolis Jewish community lost to Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
“Many, many people are wiped out,” someone close to that community told The Jewish Journal.
(More details later from our reporter Dean Rotbart).
The information is borne out in articles that have appeared in The New York Times, AP, The Wall Street Journal and today in the Minneapolis-based Jewish weekly, American Jewish World.
According to this story by Mordecai Spector (http://www.ajwnews.com/archives/401)
“Members of Oak Ridge Country Club who invested with Wall Street insider Bernard Madoff have lost tens of millions of dollars, according to knowledgeable sources in the local Jewish community.
Federal authorities arrested Madoff, 70, on Dec. 11, after he admitted to running a massive pyramid scheme that bilked investors of as much as $50 billion.
Locally, one family lost $26 million that they invested with Madoff, and another family is out $10 million, sources told the AJW this week.
“A lot of people lost everything,” said a Minneapolis-area financial professional with personal knowledge of Madoff’s local clients. He said that he could not divulge names of Oak Ridge members who were victimized by Madoff and spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Some people are going to have to sell their homes, their jewelry,” he said, regarding bilked investors who belonged to the predominantly Jewish country club in Hopkins. He added that some individuals approaching retirement have lost their life savings in the Madoff scam; they may have to return to work.”
...In a statement issued Tuesday, UJFC, the St. Paul-area federation, noted “that many outstanding members of the worldwide and local Jewish philanthropic community are victims and we are especially saddened that this alleged fraud will impact so many who have done so much with their own resources to help the most vulnerable among us. To the best of our knowledge at this time, we believe that the St. Paul Jewish community will have limited exposure to this tragic event.”
Spector’s interview with investor Harold Roitenberg tells a wide-spread story
“In addition to my own money [invested with Madoff’s firm], I had the money in a charitable lead trust that I used for making contributions, and that’s gone,” Roitenberg said.
Roitenberg and his wife, Ruth, are among the leading philanthropists in the local Jewish community. They were the lead donors for the Sholom Community Alliance’s Roitenberg Family Assisted Living Residence in St. Louis Park, and for the new Roitenberg Family Adult Day Center under construction at the new Rossy and Richard Shaller Family Sholom East Campus in St. Paul.
“I have been in touch with my bank and they know I lost money,” Roitenberg commented. “I’m trying to salvage whatever I can from this debacle.”
Here’s how Madoff got his hooks into Minneapolis, according to an AP story:
The Associated Press reported last Friday that Madoff targeted the Jewish community here, beginning about 20 years ago. Mike Engler was Madoff’s liaison to the Jewish country club set, according to the AP story. Engler, who lived in Minnetonka, died in
An Oak Ridge member recalled that Madoff was treated like visiting royalty when he visited the country club some years ago. The AJW was not able to confirm that any information about losses suffered by investors who were members of Hillcrest Country Club.
Robert Barrows, immediate past president and a current board member of Oak Ridge Country Club, told the Jewish World that the country club has a policy of not commenting on its members.
A friend of a local couple who lost their life savings in the Madoff investment scam recalled that the elderly couple referred to Madoff as “Uncle Bernie.”
In addition to local investors who lost large sums of money - as well as prominent figures in the American Jewish community, including Steven Spielberg, Elie Wiesel, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Mort Zuckerman, et al. - to Madoff, the AJW was told that relatively small investors also were victimized.
“I never knew that you could have a relatively small account with that guy,” said a local reputable source, who previously thought that Madoff’s threshold was at least a million dollars. “He made himself out to be extremely exclusive,” but some families invested as little as $50,000 with Madoff’s scam operation in New York City.
“People who got in with the small dollars” felt as if Madoff had granted a “personal favor to let them in,” said the AJW’s source. “You felt privileged to have your money with him, because he always made money, year in and year out - even when Warren Buffett lost money, this guy still made money.”
December 17, 2008 | 9:17 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFS), the premier Jewish provider of a wide variety of social services to LA’s poor, elderly and disabled population, lost $425,000 in the Bernard Madoff scandal.
The money, a portion of the JFS Endowment Fund, wasmanaged as part of the Jewish Community Foundation’s Common Investment Pool, which had been invested in Bernard Madoff Investment Securities LLP. JFS estimates that approximately $425,000, The money represents about 10% of JFS’s invested assets.
“These losses compound the difficulty of providing critically needed services to the vulnerable in an already fragile economic environment,” said Paul S. Castro, JFS CEO and Executive Director in a statement just released to The Jewish Journal, “We will work directly with the Jewish Community Foundation to mitigate the damage and minimize the impact on client services.”
“Unfortunately, one man’s unconscionable greed will impact services for thousands of people in need across the country,” said Jeff Nagler, JFS President. “However, the Los Angeles community can continue to count on JFS to provide a safety net for individuals and families who need our help.”
ABOUT JEWISH FAMILY SERVICE OF LOS ANGELES (from its web site)
Jewish Family Service, established in 1854, serves people of all ages, ethnicities and religions with compassion and caring. JFS’ nationally recognized services counsel and support individuals and families, helping more than 60,000 people each year in the greater Los Angeles area. JFS provides food and shelter, connects people with disabilities to vital resources, and help relatives and friends care for loved ones, young and old. JFS counsels families in crisis and at-risk children through school based programs. JFS provides safe shelter for homeless families, as well as for abused women and their children, and helps them create independent lives. More information is available at www.jfsla.org.
December 17, 2008 | 8:51 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
As financial losses resulting from the Madoff scheme continue to bleed throughout the country, two things have become clear: Jewish investors are acutely affected, and a few of them hail from Hollywood.
First we heard about Spielberg, then Katzenberg, then their longtime business manager Gerald Breslauer, who recommended investing with Madoff. Earlier today, the LA Times reported that screenwriter Eric Roth, who last week was nominated for a Golden Globe for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” lost his entire retirement savings. Those are the first few to fall, but the way this Ponzi pyramid is breaking down, there will likely be more.
Is it mere coincidence that the Hollywood players ensnared in the scheme are all Jewish?
If they’re from Hollywood, they’re not really Jewish, goes the stereotype. But the Madoff mess actually reveals something contrary to the prevailing belief that there’s nothing substantively Jewish in Hollywood (besides a bunch of Jewish names). It speaks to a foundational common thread, something sacred that is shared amongst members of a close-knit community; a community built on trust.
How else can you explain the kind of incestuous financial rings developed and sustained within the Hollywood Jewish community? Spielberg entrusts his net worth to his Jewish business manager; he shares said business manager with friend Jeffrey Katzenberg; and that very same manager trusts their sizable assets to another reputable Jew: Bernard Madoff. It could be argued that the entire entertainment industry operates this way; a tribalistic clan working together, sharing with each other and trusting one another.
What’s more Jewish than that?
December 17, 2008 | 7:53 pm
Posted by David Suissa
If you want to understand what’s behind the financial and ethical scandals we’re all consumed with these days, go to the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas on any Saturday night, and look for the loudest craps table.
If it’s a loud table, that means the roller’s on a winning streak. The dice keep coming up “winner”. The crowd gets louder. The bets get bigger. The cocktails keep flowing.
Now take a look at the guy rolling the dice. With every winning roll, he’s getting more cocky. He kisses the dice in a certain manner, as if he’s got some unique magical touch that’s creating the winning rolls and making money for everybody. By now, hot babes in skimpy dresses are fawning all over him—because he keeps winning. Off to the side, his mother, who he brought to Vegas for her 70th birthday, is trying to tell him to cash in his winnings and join her for a late tea.
Now, who do you think he’s going to listen to? His sensible mother or the sexy babes? Who makes him feel more powerful? Who makes him feel like he’s on top of the world?
Hint: it’s not the old lady who speaks Yiddish.
America’s gone crazy. Thomas Friedman wrote in a column last week that ever since American capitalism vanquished communism in the late 1980’s, we’ve unraveled. Having an ideological enemy focused our minds and gave us discipline. Absent that opposition, we became a juvenile nation that just wants to party, gamble and celebrate.
A president who makes out with an intern in the same office where Abraham Lincoln toiled to keep our country together. Another president who uses phrases like “bring it on” in the middle of a geopolitical crisis. We turned into a nation where empty swagger became a substitute for serious thought.
On the economic front, the nation became one big craps table. We all wanted to believe. There was a little voice inside of us telling us there’s no way this good luck can continue, but the noise of the crowd was too loud. We fell for the hype of high-rolling politicians who promised us the moon and told us the sky was the limit—because that’s the only way they could get elected.
We saw the captains of Wall Street inflate values with sophisticated schemes few people could understand, even when the schemes were legal. We got seduced by money lenders shouting “no money down, no mortgage payments for two years!”, and failed to notice that by tampering with the integrity of risk, they were creating an economic time bomb.
And we shopped. Boy did we shop. Three hundred million credit cards made it easy.
When we finally woke up from our party at the end of 2008, we had taken on the signs of a third-world nation. We became the world’s largest exporter of raw materials and the largest importer of finished goods. We bought things, but we stopped making them.
All along, whenever sober naysayers would try to warn us about the dangers lurking within, we would look away. Who likes a party pooper, anyway?
The naysayers knew we were getting drunk on two lethal cocktails: One, the crazy idea that we had nowhere to go but up. And two, the crazy idea that we can get something for nothing.
Out of this superficial and immoral cesspool burst forth a Jew who will surely go down as one of the all-time great Jewish villains: Bernie Madoff. Madoff came from the culture of the craps table, but he took it to a whole other level. He was the “counter” who needs a mask to get into any casino because he’s figured out how to game the system. He was the deceiver who got so drunk on his power that he lost all moral bearing.
When his great-great grandchildren Google his name or read any history book on America at the turn of the millennium, they will have many reasons to hold their noses and feel the sting of shame.
We don’t have to wait that long. Jews already feel the sting of shame, and worse, the sting of enormous financial loss that will reverberate to Jewish charities and homes everywhere.
In the advertising business, we always say that we sell optimism. That’s what clients come to us for—to feed their dreams and help them reach higher and higher. When they want sober reality, they can go to their accountants.
On that note, someone asked me at a party the other night how I would counsel someone like Bernie Madoff. I blurted out that from now until the day he goes to jail, he should visit the Jewish communities of every state and not just beg for their forgiveness, but explain how he will spend very waking minute of the rest of his life trying to redeem himself. He can call it the Madoff Redemption Tour.
So yes, America’s in a mess, and the Madoff story is big. It’s bigger than big. It’s so big, in fact, that it can start to own us.
I remember how during the second intifada, when one terror attack after another kept hitting Israel, for months we had pretty much stopped singing at our Shabbat table, or saying words of Torah or telling sweet stories. We were consumed with what was happening in the Holy Land.
One day, I decided that I would no longer let Yasir Arafat destroy my Shabbat table. I would fight for Israel and discuss things like terrorism 24/6, but not 24/7.
I feel the same way about the mess we are in and especially about Bernie Madoff. It’s bad enough that he destroyed so much in the Jewish world and the world at large. But come this Friday night, I will sing songs with my children and tell beautiful stories, and I won’t let him destroy my Shabbat table. You can bet on it.
December 17, 2008 | 6:55 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
The number is almost too big to comprehend. It’s not quite as much as the $110 million that Yeshiva University lost in the Bernard Madoff investment scheme. But I’m not sure Hadassah has $90 million to spare. That’s right: $90,000,000.
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, said it had invested $90 million with Bernard Madoff.
“We are currently in the process of investigating the exact amounts and their impact, but it appears that at the time of his arrest, Hadassah had approximately $90 million invested with his firm,” the organization said Wednesday in a statement. “Falling victim to this unprecedented fraud will require us to make necessary adjustments, but it has not in the slightest affected our commitment to our core Zionist mission. These are indeed turbulent times, but the key pillars of Hadassah remain as strong as ever.”
Hadassah already was facing tough times because of the economic downturn, adopting cuts in its operating budget and expecting additional reductions in the coming months. The details of the yet-to-be-determined cuts are likely to become clearer following a board meeting next month.
“Now the Madoff situation compounds and accelerates the matter,” said a source close to the situation.