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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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‘Oy vey, my child is gay’

Orthodox parents seek shared connection in upcoming retreat

Eshel, a group that works to bridge the divide that often separates lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews from their Orthodox communities, is holding its third annual retreat for Orthodox parents of those LGBT Jews next month.

Although most of its work is done with Orthodox LGBT Jews — who may or may not be the children of the parents at the retreat — the retreat offers parents community, immediate understanding, the freedom to speak that comes with that understanding, the chance to learn, and the opportunity to model healthy acceptance.

“There are particular issues to being Orthodox and having a gay child, although it varies a lot from community to community,” Naomi Oppenheim of Teaneck said. “You worry about what the community is thinking about you. Someone — I don’t remember who — said, ‘When my kid came out, I went into the closet.’”

 

When rabbis won’t speak about Israel

AJR panel to offer tips for starting a conversation

Ironically, what should be a unifying topic for Jews often spurs such heated discussion that rabbis tend to avoid it, said Ora Horn Prouser, executive vice president and dean of the Academy for Jewish Religion.

Dr. Prouser, who lives in Franklin Lakes and is married to Temple Emanuel of North Jersey’s Rabbi Joseph Prouser, said that she heard a lot over the summer from rabbis and other spiritual leaders. They said that they were “unable or not comfortable talking about Israel in their synagogues,” she reported.

“It didn’t come from a lack of love,” Dr. Horn said. “They’re deeply invested in Israel, and yet they felt they could not get into a conversation without deeply offending other parts of their community.”

 

Twenty years later

Stephen Flatow remembers his murdered daughter Alisa

When you ask attorney Stephen Flatow of West Orange how many children he has, his answer is immediate.

“I have five children,” he says.

Not surprising. What father doesn’t know how many children he has?

And how are they doing?

Four of them are flourishing; they are all married and all parents. Mr. Flatow and his wife, Rosalyn, have 13 grandchildren, and another one’s on the way. (And three of the Flatows’ children live in Bergen County.)

But the fifth, his oldest, Alisa, was murdered by terrorists when she was 20; her 20th yahrzeit was last week. She has been dead as long as she was alive.

“Just because she isn’t there now, that doesn’t mean I’m not her father,” he said. “I just don’t have any recent pictures of her to show.”

 

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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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