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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 ????????

 

Laughing with Joan

I made Joan Rivers laugh.

Of course she made me laugh, like she did to millions of others through her decades-long, often unfiltered, and ever-funny career, but yes, I made Joan Rivers laugh.

At the time, I was working at the celebrity-obsessed New York Post, and as the features writer for its women’s section, I had reason to ring up the raspy-voiced, Brooklyn-born blonde for a quickie. I had to grab a quote for some story that I was writing. As I recall, the conversation had turned to food, a favorite subject of the Jewish woman on my end of the phone, and, apparently, of that Jewish woman on the other end as well. Joan told me that she just adored the creamed spinach served at the legendary Brooklyn restaurant, Peter Luger’s — a must-have accompaniment to its famous and robust steaks. Joan told me she would dine there with a hairdresser-to-the-stars, the late Kenneth Battelle. (She kept her physique petite with this practice: She never ate anything after 3 p.m. If she did find herself dining with someone, she popped Altoids to keep her mouth busy.)

 

Cookin’ it up!

Tales of a Teaneck kitchen prodigy

How did 12-year-old Eitan Bernath of Teaneck come to be on the Food Network’s popular cooking show “Chopped”?

“He’s always been curious and he likes science,” said his mother, Sabrina Bernath. “He thinks it’s cool to mix flavors and watch things rise. He also likes to make people happy,” she added, pointing out that he had just brought his friends a freshly baked batch of cinnabuns.

For Eitan, a student at Yavneh Academy in Paramus, cooking is more than just a hobby. Struggling for the right word, the fledgling chef — whose website, cookwithchefeitan.com, will launch this week — described his relationship with the culinary arts as a “passion.”

 

Policies are the best policy

Teaneck synagogue forum addresses child sexual abuse

Does your synagogue have policies in place to protect children from sexual abuse? Do your children’s schools and camps?

Such policies, Dr. Shira Berkovits told a meeting in Teaneck on Sunday night, can make a difference to children’s safety.

Dr. Berkovits is a consultant for the Department of Synagogue Services at the Orthodox Union, and she is developing a guide to preventing child sexual abuse in synagogues. She was speaking at Teaneck’s Congregation Rinat Yisrael, as part of a panel on preventing child sexual abuse co-sponsored by three other Teaneck Orthodox congregations: Netivot Shalom, Keter Torah, and Lubavitch of Bergen County.

 

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

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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?

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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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