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Aftershocks of Madoff scandal

‘Taken by a maestro’

 
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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.

Burt Ross

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

Ross — an Englewood resident, former mayor of Fort Lee, and well-known Bergen County real estate developer — told The Jewish Standard that he lost about $5 million, both through Ascot and through direct investments with Madoff.

Still, he said, “I’m fine. I feel blessed for many reasons. I’ve got love, my health, and a wonderful support system.”

Ross, a stockbroker in the early 1970s, said he “went public” about his personal losses “to help me cope with them.” Some people deal with difficult situations through humor or talking — his chosen response — “while others jump out of windows,” he said.

When you speak out, “it allows people to come forward and be there for you.” Paying tribute to the many old and new friends who have offered him comfort in recent weeks, he said, “I wouldn’t trade this love for all the yachts and planes Madoff had in his lifetime.”

He said that one man, a total stranger, read his story in last week’s Wall Street Journal and offered to finance the trip Ross was forced to cancel in light of his losses.

“It was so moving,” Ross said.

Regarding Madoff, whom he called an “evil genius,” Ross said, “we got taken by a maestro. Jewish philanthropy has been put back a decade. It’s a shanda, a disgrace.”

He said he hopes people of means who have not been affected by the financial disaster will “step forward and pick up the slack for those of us who have lost it.”

Most important, he said, he wants people who have lost money in the scandal to understand that they should not feel ashamed or embarrassed to speak out. In addition, he said, “there are so many good people. If Bernie Madoff makes you lose faith in humanity, he’s won.”

For himself, he said, he will “work a little harder, approach life one day at a time, and continue to recite the serenity prayer each day. Self-flagellation doesn’t work.” Nor does treating oneself as a victim or second-guessing past decisions.

“What would I say to Madoff if I saw him?” mused Ross. “Hopefully, I wouldn’t see him. But if I did, I’d say, ‘Feh.’ You look at him and you want to wash your hands,” he said, asking how anyone could “screw everyone you know and make your name one that will live in infamy.”

He said he is not angry at Madoff — “I’m beyond that,” he maintained — but he is upset that the Securities and Exchange Commission, informed that Madoff was running a fraudulent scheme, cleared him after two investigations.

“We must appoint people who do their job,” he said, citing the comment by Chris Cox, the SEC chairman, that the commission “might have blown it.”

“Just what would have had to happen for him to remove the word ‘might’ from that statement?” asked Ross.

 

More on: Aftershocks of Madoff scandal

 
 
 

‘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.

 
 

‘A legacy of shame’

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.”

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

 
 
 
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Stay tuned for the return of comments

Drew Feldman posted 29 Jun 2009 at 05:07 PM

If anyone doesn’t think Madoff is actually a victim of his own greed, you’re mistaken. I’m not saying he’s not entirely culpable, which he is, but this whole affair smacks of a giant cover up and conspiracy. First you have the SEC’s multiple investigations. Come on, the SEC missed this? Let’s not be fooled, the SEC claiming they “blew it” is a diversion. “Oh sorry folks, we’re just a bunch of dummies up here at the SEC, it’s a shame but this all happened because we’re too stupid.” Second, everyone knows that there’s no way he did this by himself. Using history as a guide, we know that if a criminal cooperates with a government investigation they merit a reduced sentence. Why is Madoff taking all the blame and not naming names and telling what hew knows? Does he really want to doe in prison? No, and it’s exactly because he will most likely be killed if he talks, just like the mob.  But you can’t expect the Witness Protection Program to protect you from the government. Madoff knows that if he agrees to cooperate he is a dead man so he has wisely chosen life in prison over death. This whole affair stinks and justice has not been done because there are other guilty parties, most likely in official positions, who did get away with this. Madoff is a fall guy - a reprehensible, guilty, evil fall guy, but a fall guy none the less.

justin bor posted 29 Jun 2009 at 08:13 PM

bert ross says he lost 5 million dollars   did he actually invest 5 million dollars or invested 1 million 4 years ago and it grew to 5 million   and than he lost 5 million ????????

 

‘It’s valuable to hear both sides’

Ridgewood man discusses Israeli, Palestinian narratives

Jonathan Emont — a 2008 graduate of Ridgewood High School who celebrated his bar mitzvah at the town’s Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center — always has felt a deep attachment to the state of Israel.

Still, the 23-year-old said, he never expected that country to be at the center of his professional life.

Things changed, however, when the recent Swarthmore College graduate went to Israel on a tour the America-Israel Friendship League offered to young journalists.

“I did journalism in college,” he said, explaining that although he majored in history, he also was the editor of Swarthmore’s Daily Gazette.

 

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.

 

Yet more Pew

Local rabbis talk more about implications of look at American Jews

The Pew Research Center’s study of American Jews, released last October, really is the gift that keeps on giving.

As much as the Jewish community deplores the study’s findings, it seems to exert a magnetic pull over us, as if it were the moon and we the obedient tides. We can’t seem to stop talking about it. (Of course, part of that appeal is the license it gives us to talk, once again, about ourselves. We fascinate ourselves endlessly.)

That is why we found ourselves at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly last Wednesday night, with the next in the seemingly endless series of snow-and-ice storms just a few hours away, discussing the Pew study yet again.

 

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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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