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What Madoff investments reveal about Hollywood Jews

by Danielle Berrin

December 17, 2008 | 7:51 pm

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?

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