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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 ????????

 

A rabbi hasn’t walked into the bar ... yet

It’s not every day that a liquor license comes up for sale in Teaneck. (State licensing laws limit the number of licenses in a formula based on a town’s population.)

So when Jonathan Gellis heard that the owner of Vinny O’s in Teaneck was looking to sell the establishment, including the license, after 28 years behind the bar, he realized that only one of the more than 20 kosher restaurants in Teaneck could sell alcohol.

That seemed to be an opportunity.

Mr. Gellis is a stockbroker by day. He’s used to working in a regulated business — and the alcohol business in New Jersey is highly regulated.

Mr. Gellis grew up in Teaneck; his parents moved the family here from Brooklyn in 1975, back when the town had only one kosher restaurant. His four children attend Yeshivat Noam and the Frisch School, and he serves on the board of both institutions. He also is president of Congregation Keter Torah.

 

Tips for fighting campus anti-Israel activity

Local groups combine to give advice for college students and parents

If you have been paying attention to the news lately, you know that anti-Israel sentiment and activity on college campuses is growing. Many of these hate-based initiatives pass the “3D” anti-Semitism litmus test developed by Nathan Sharansky and adopted by the U.S. State Department. They are the new face of anti-Semitism our teens must be prepared to counter as they head off to college.

For example, mock eviction notices were slipped under some colleges’ dorm room doors by pro-Palestinian groups who say that forced evictions are part of Israel’s “apartheid policies” ... to “cleanse the region of its Arab population.” Lie-filled Israeli Apartheid Week campaigns have become annual campus events. The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is trying to gain a foothold on campus as well, led by student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine as well as by pro-Palestinian community groups and even some high profile anti-Zionist Jews like Max Blumenthal.

 

The converso’s dilemma

Local group goes to New Mexico to learn about crypto-Jews

Imagine that you were raised as a Catholic. Then one day — perhaps as a beloved parent or grandparent lay dying and leaned over to whisper something in your ear — you learned that your family once was Jewish. Your ancestors were converted forcibly some 500 years ago.

For those people all over the world who have had that experience, the next step is not entirely clear. Do they jump in with both feet and vigorously pursue their new Jewish identities, or do they simply go about their business, choosing to do nothing with this new information? These dilemmas, and more, were the subject of a recent Road Scholar program in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The topic — “New Mexico’s Conversos and Crypto-Jews” — continues to fascinate both Jews and non-Jews, as evidenced by the religious identity of the attendees. Among those participating in this month’s session — there are 10 such programs held each year — were five residents from our area, including this author.

 

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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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