Jewish Philanthropy Devastated By Bernie Madoff Scam

JTA reports:

Sources close to Yeshiva University, where Madoff served as treasurer of the board of trustees and chairman of the board of Y.U.’s Sy Syms School of Business until he resigned last week, said that the school has lost at least $100 million. But Y.U. officials declined to offer any specifics.

Just as the reverberations of the subprime mortgage collapse are still seen as contributing to the nation’s wider economic meltdown, philanthropic insiders say the fallout from Madoff’s scheme could be even greater. Philanthropy insiders note that Madoff and others heavily invested in his fraudulent fund were major supporters of a plethora of nonprofit organizations, served on their boards or advised those organizations on how to invest their money — in some cases placing large sums of the groups’ capital in Madoff’s hands.

From the New York Times:

He had come to move easily in the clubby Jewish world that iterates between New York City and its suburbs and southern satellites like Palm Beach.

Indeed, in the world of Jewish New York, where Mr. Madoff, 70, was raised and found success, he is largely still considered as a macher: a big-hearted big shot for whom philanthropy and family always intertwined with — and were equally as important as — finance.

Mr. Madoff, who attended but never finished law school, was already rich by his early 50s, largely due to his intuitive grasp of the centrality of computers to high finance, he once told Forbes magazine. In an era when many, if not most, transactions were conducted on the phone, he turned his company into a fully automated operation that could make trades in as little as four seconds flat.

And soon the Madoff name — if not quite the equal of the Tisch name, for example — carried a quiet power.

"The guy never flaunted anything,” said one longtime friend. “And that fit with his rate of return, which was never attention-grabbing, just solid 12-13 percent year in, year out."

The friend, a private investor who knows Mr. Madoff from the Palm Beach Country Club and from the Hamptons, said friends and investors had been calling nonstop since the arrest.

"The pain is just unbelievable,” the friend said. “He was part of the family for so many people. There was this quiet culture of people, slightly older-money, who maybe weren’t that interested in the market, who kept saying to each other, ‘Just give Bernie your money, you’ll be fine.’ "

That culture had perhaps its best expression at the half-dozen golf clubs he belonged to, ranging from the woody Old Oaks in Purchase, N.Y., to the Palm Beach Country Club in Florida.

“He and his wife were nice golfers,” said Denise Lefrak Calicchio, part of the Lefrak real estate family, who knew the Madoffs socially through several of their clubs. “He and his wife seemed lovely.”

With time, some wealthy investors even joined clubs in order to become part of Mr. Madoff’s investments, some who knew him said. It was considered a favor to be introduced to the man as a potential investor.

“There were people joining golf clubs just to get into his fund,” said one investor who declined to be named. “This guy was held in such high regard.”

A member of the Palm Beach club said the Madoffs did not socialize as much as other members did, nor did they fight as aggressively as others to keep up with the club’s more aerobic social climbers. They were well-liked, and did not appear to be part of the “blister pack,” as one club member put it, a term that refers to those who get blisters on their hands and feet from ascending social ladders.

“They seemed to stay apart from the herd,” the club member said. “They chose not to get into that social rat race.”

Mr. Madoff was, in fact, so popular with investors that he often turned away their money. After Barbara S. Fox, president of the Fox Residential Group in Manhattan, had sold his son, Andrew, an apartment, she pleaded with Mr. Madoff — unsuccessfully — to let her invest in the Madoff funds.

Rob Eshman’s tracking the story for the Jewish Journal:

In the wake of the scandal, Internet message boards are alive with anti-Semitic vitriol.
The web site provides a list of Madoff’s victims supplied by CNBC’s  David Faber:

  • Fund of Funds
  • European banks
  • remont Advisers
  • "market confidence"
  • JEWS

The comments on that page reveal the kind of anti-Semitic writing that scandals involving Jewish financiers unleash with clockwork precision.
A sampling:

  • LOL Jews!…
  • Looks like a lot of Jews might be converting to Muslim soon….in prison….
  • Now that the JEW has been thrown down the well, is our country free? LETS THROW A BIG PARTY!!!

The message boards at the web site Stormfront, where neo-Nazis go to play, is rife with comments like, "One of satan’s children doing what comes naturally."

Hey. If it’s small comfort the prosecutor in the case is Jewish, and it was Madoff’s sons who turned their crooked dad in.

Thousands of small Jewish investors who played by the rules and worked and saved are now financially ruined because of this man. For all but your garden variety bigots, one horrifically monstrously putrid apple doesn’t mean squat about the whole tree.

From my chat room:

Josh:  it’s been madoff all day at my office
Josh:  mofo, maybe the goyin are right, and we jews are responsible for all of the world’s ills
Josh:  that’s the price you pay for being the best at everything.
GermanDragon:  Good and bad people can be everywhere
Josh:  we are the best capitalists, we are the best communists
Josh:  we are the most righteosu, we are the most villainous
Josh:  we are the most god-fearing, we are the most atheistic
Josh:  i think we’d be better off aas a people if we moved closer to the mean
Josh:  no one gives too s**ts about the Swedes or the Portuguese
GermanDragon:  I don’t care which religion you are, which nationality
Josh:  it matters
OldManRivers:  In Scotland we have a saying- We’re all Jock Tamson’s bairns!
OldManRivers:  ie we’re all the same, just people, just people
Josh:  nonsense
Josh:  that’s just hogwash
GermanDragon:  Right, OldManRivers, we are all humans
OldManRivers:  No Josh- It is true that in scotland we have that saying!
Josh:  different cultures posess different values, which manifests itself in behavior
GermanDragon:  real values are interesting
OldManRivers:  True- But that implies difference thro’ influence
Josh:  absoulutely
Josh:  i’m a culturist, not a racist
Josh:  i believe certain cultures are superior to others
Josh:  if i adopt a black kid and raise him as a jew, he’d have jewish values and behave properly
Josh:  erkel, from family matter, was a bright young black role model, but was viewed as a joke
Josh:  carlton, from the fresh prince, was constantly mocked
Josh:  smart, ambitious, young black men are the object of ridicule in all black comedies
Josh:  when i was a kid my father would take me to shul (synagogue) and would point to people and say, "he’s a doctor, he’s a lawyer, he’s a professor."
Josh:  these same people would be mocked in the black community
Josh:  it’s called natural selection, and it’s a good thing, otherwise we never progress
OldManRivers:  Have we progressed Josh?
Josh:  we no longer sacrifice our children to moloch

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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