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Schulweis: Madoff mess more than ‘one rotten apple’

by Brad A. Greenberg

December 26, 2008 | 5:32 pm

Rabbi Harold Schulweis

Bernard Madoff, bad for the Jews. You’ve thus far heard the refrain. Rabbis Elliot Dorff and David Wolpe have weighed in with their thoughts on the lessons and responses to the Madoff affair. Many others have too.

Now, if we wanted to complete the holy trinity of Conservative rabbis we should really find out what Rabbi Harold Schulweis thinks. It just so happens I spoke with Sculweis, founder of Jewish World Watch and the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, for my article this week; His synagogue lost aout 8 percent of its endowment:

“It’s tragic. And it has to be understood beyond one rotten apple. You have to look at the barrel. We are living in a culture, and have been living in a culture of greed, of success at any price, and we have allowed that scene in the movie ‘Wall Street’ to become reality—greed is good, and you know that as long as money comes in it is justified.”

And here is a nugget I left out:

“I’m not an economist. But my mother used to say, as your mother used to say, If they tell you it is too good to be true, then it’s too good to be true. That is elementary. and it would seem to me that if you get back 10 percent, no matter what, in good times and bad times, then it is too good to be true. That is the sad part: One has to be so untrusting. There used to be a day when the deal was done with a handshake. That has been lost. Now, shrewdness, manipulation, exploitation has been sort of accepted as the way it’s done.”

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