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Will the Madoff mess kill the American Jewish Congress?

by Brad A. Greenberg

December 22, 2008 | 3:26 pm

The American Jewish Congress, founded 90 years ago by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and Supreme Court Justices Felix Frankfurter and Louis Brandeis, may be on its last leg.

AJCongress had a significant, though undisclosed, portion of its endowment invested with Bernard Madoff. That money is now gone, and though the AJCongress’ acting executive director told JTA last week that the New York-based organization would not close, I’ve heard scuttlebutt to the contrary. The board, I understand, met last week to discuss what the future holds.

Whether the AJCongress will fold, be absorbed by another organization or simply scale back its operations remains to be seen. Regardless, some tough financial decisions will have to be made.

“All I know at this stage is I’m going to work on Monday,” Gary Ratner, the West Coast director, told me yesterday. “No one has told me of any changes at all at this stage. I’ve been told nothing except keep working, keep doing my programs and keep soliciting funds for our mission.”

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