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Aftershocks of Madoff scandal

‘A legacy of shame’

 
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State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37) lost her life savings in the Bernard Madoff scam. Still, she says, “while this issue is important for me and for my family, I keep concentrating on the fact that I am probably better off than a good part of the country.”

Loretta Weinberg

“I’ve never lived above my means,” said Weinberg, who added that she has “satisfying work to do, which I plan to continue.”

Weinberg admits that the financial loss took her by surprise.

“I had never heard of Madoff before a week ago Friday,” Weinberg told The Jewish Standard. “I had no idea my IRA was invested with him.” Nor, she said, did she realize that she was in an investment group “with so many other Jewish people.”

“This is not how I planned to become well-known,” she joked.

Weinberg’s savings, along with those of many in her extended family, were invested with Stanley Chais, a Los Angeles money manager, who also fell victim to Madoff.

Among the other victims was the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity — something that Weinberg said “made me angry.”

“I hope that’s something Madoff has to think about every morning when he gets up and every night when he goes to bed,” she said. “I hope he knows that’s his legacy.”

To the extent that those connected with the scam were themselves Jewish, Weinberg said, “they clearly never absorbed Jewish values.”

Weinberg said that after an account of her loss appeared in the PolitickerNJ.com Reporter, anti-Semitic comments flowed onto the site, some of which have now been removed.

“I don’t think we should be worried,” she said, calling the scandal “just another reason for these people to express themselves. They were there before and they will be there after this is long forgotten,” she said.

Weinberg said the SEC should “do its job” and regulate such financial endeavors, looking more closely at their operations.

“I was under the impression that my money manager was investing in stocks and bonds,” she said, pointing out that she got regular statements and filed detailed tax forms.

She told the Standard that she has reached out to Rep. Steven Rothman (D-9) and Sen. Robert Menendez, asking them to research “laws, rules, and regulations concerning statutes of limitation.” For example, she said, she believes that there are three-year time limits to amend tax returns.

Her hope is that groups affected by the Madoff scam will be able to amend tax returns in which they paid taxes on — it turns out — non-existent investments.

“What’s most important is what’s happened to Jewish philanthropy,” she said, citing foundations that will no longer be able to donate to Jewish causes.

Reverting to the theme of anti-Semitism, Weinberg stressed, “We can’t be afraid of it. We have to face it.” But, she added, “the little worms who want to come out should put their names [on their attacks].”

“We have to speak out and confront anti-Semites,” she said. “We have nothing to be embarrassed about. Even banks get robbed.”

 

More on: Aftershocks of Madoff scandal

 
 
 

‘Taken by a maestro’

Burt Ross has learned many things since the Madoff debacle. For starters, he said, he should have listened to his wife, Joan, when she suggested six months ago that he take some money out of the Ascot Hedge Fund, a key player in the scandal.

“I told her she was crazy. That was the only thing that wasn’t losing money,” he said.

 
 

‘It’s horrible what this man did’

While Yeshiva University was hard-hit by the Madoff scandal, to the tune of $110 million, it is not the only educational institution to suffer. The damage has spread to Israel, and the Technion Institute in Haifa is among the big losers: The university, which has been called Israel’s MIT, lost NIS 25 million (about $6.5 million), and its American fund-raising arm, American Technion Society, lost what amounts to $72 million.

 
 
 
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Walling off, reaching out

Teaneck shul offers discussion of Women of the Wall

It is not an understatement to say that the saga of Women of the Wall is a metaphor for much of the struggle between tradition and change in Israel.

Founded 25 years ago by a group of Israeli and non-Israeli women whose religious affiliations ran from Orthodox to Reform, it has been a flashpoint for the fight for pluralism in Israel, as one side would define it, or the obligation to hold onto God-given mandates on the other.

As its members and supporters fought for the right to hold services in the women’s section, raising their voices in prayer, and later to wear tallitot and read from sifrei Torah, and as their opponents grew increasingly violent in response, it came to define questions of synagogue versus state and showcase both the strengths and the flaws of Israel’s extraordinary parliamentary system. It also highlighted rifts between American and Israeli Jews.

 

Shabbat in the White City

Fair Lawn man aims for Guinness-record dinner in Tel Aviv

Jay Shultz is determined to set a new world record while promoting Tel Aviv — usually cited for its nightlife and startup culture — as a great place to spend Shabbat.

The 37-year-old Fair Lawn native, who has lived in Israel since 2006, has earned a reputation as the “International Mayor of Tel Aviv” after a series of grand-scale initiatives geared at positioning his adopted city as welcoming haven for young professional immigrants.

His latest exploit: Through his popular White City Shabbat program, which offers communal meals for young Israelis and immigrants at local synagogues, Mr. Shultz launched an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign to sponsor the world’s largest Shabbat dinner.

 

Testing for genetic diseases

JScreen provides easy, low-cost screening for people of Jewish lineage

Looking for a novel engagement or bridal shower gift? “Forget a blender or another place setting. Give a JGift and help them ensure the best future for their family,” advises the website JScreen.org.

For $99 you can “give the gift of screening,” said Hillary Kener, JScreen’s outreach coordinator. Ms. Kener was referring to the online genetic screening program that is coordinated through the department of human genetics at Atlanta’s Emory University. With this unique program it is possible to be screened for up to 80 genetic mutations. Along with screening, the site provides education and access to genetic counseling related to the screening tests. And all of this can take place in the comfort of your own home or dormitory room.

 

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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
 
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