As Founder of 5WPR a New York PR Firm, and one involved with the Jewish community I have spoken over the last few years with many people about the effect on Jewish reputation and perception as a result of the Madoff affair. While undoubtedly many Jews were harmed by Madoff – As educator Avraham Infeld said “Madoff “obliterated” long-standing charitable foundations for Jewish causes in Israel, Eastern Europe and North America,” I don’t believe that the “Jewish Brand” was affected in any way by the Madoff scheme.
The Madoff family is a clan of crooks – of which every race, religion and people has and the Jewish people are no different. America is well beyond the Anti-Semitism of the USA of Henry Ford.
On the cover of today’s New York Post – replete with pictures – is the news that Peter Madoff spent yesterday at his granddaughter’s luxury bat-mitzvah at Manhattan’s famed Central Synagogue. Peter was called up to the stage (bima) to recite a prayer and kissed the Torah as he was permitted to delay his prison sentence until after this event. While Madoff may indeed have the right to pray – he shouldn’t have been permitted entrée to Central Synagogue. Why did the board of Central Synagogue permit “catered salmon, tuna and bagels” into the synagogue for this criminal family to enjoy?
While they may legally be allowed to have a bat mitzvah, one may wonder why Central Synagogue needs to provide him a forum and allow him entrée to their building or anywhere near a Torah? Where is Central Synagogue’s concern for the many people of all races and religions harmed by the Madoffs?
Peter Madoff worked with Bernie for 40 years and was paid over $40 Million from 1998 to 2008. All the Madoff’s benefited from the fraud – the bat-mitzvah girl’s mom, Shana was the sole custodian for most of the firm’s compliance documents and regulatory filings and received at least $15.2 Million from the scheme. Shana received $2.89 million from the firm to purchase a home in East Hampton, paid her personal interior decorator, and $374,860 in personal expenses from the family ponzi scheme.
In the Jewish community in part thanks to Peter & Shana over $6 Million was taken from the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, and prominent philanthropists Stephen Spielberg, Elie Wiesel, and former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Mort Zuckerman as well as many others were fleeced.
Did the gifts received get donated to any of the Madoff victims? Anyone at Central Synagogue bother to ask how many bar and bat mitzvahs couldn’t be held because of the Madoffs?
Central Synagogue Rabbi Peter Rubinstein wrote the Madoff Judge “I suspect that the unfolding tragedy of Peter’s circumstances . . . were hatched early on in his dependence on his older brother as the closest father figure he had.” Despicable.
Peter & Shana Madoff both benefitted from the fraud. There is indeed such a thing as un-kosher money and people who shouldn’t be permitted into synagogues. As Elie Wiesel’s wife, Marion said the crime that flourished under Peter Madoff caused “the immediate and dramatic loss of a lifetime’s worth of work and savings.” Did Central Synagogue return donations received during this period?
Every year, Central Synagogue gives their highest award, the Shofar Award, a yearly acknowledgment to someone “who’s lived a life of Jewish values, whose advocacy, mission, and accomplishments are informed by the beliefs of the Jewish people” – to set an example they should give it this year to all of the Madoff victims. Who’d want such an award now?
Shame on Central Synagogue.