Bernard Madoff’s Hasidic Court

Benjamin Atlas blogs at Horizontal Plane:

Was Bernard L. Madoff Securities a business or a Chasidic court? Is Bernie Madoff a galitzianer? Does he come from Polish or Austrian Galitzia? Galitzia is the origin of many famous or infamous Jewish merchants. The area was the industrial revolution conduit between Western and Eastern Europe. Galitzia was free from Communism till WWII when the merchant business flourished. The culture of Galitzia was dominated by Rebbes and Chasidic courts. There is something in the way Bernie Madoff operated that has clear cultural markings of a Chasidic court.

  1. Family business: Bernie run his operation from the off-limits inner sanctum of the 17th floor in the Lipstick Building with his brother Peter. His sons were in charge of the brokerage business on the 16th floor. Considering the monetary value of the operation it is astonishing that family not meritocracy was the chief qualifiers in the tradition of Chassidic Courts.
  2. Miracles: Just like with the Rebbes the business was creating an impression of a recluse miracle worker, restricting access and deliberately nurturing exclusivity with the specific purpose of targeting rich Jews in order to separate them from their money.
  3. Just like with Chasidic Rebbes Bernie cultivated feeder funds lead by individuals who’s only qualification in life was their conduit proximity to the reclusive miracle worker.
  4. OCD: Part and parcel of any Rebbe is unintentional or deliberate extreme OCD (that is often confused with Jewish religion) AKA “holiness”. There is evidence of Bernie’s (and his brother Peter’s) OCD in regards to colors and geometry (to be address in separate post).

P.S. If not for Bernie the scandal of the moment would have been that of Marc Dreier. Here is another example of a reclusive operator. Is Marc Dreier also a galitzianer?

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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