Sunday, December 28, 2008

American Jews hard-hit by Madoff scandal

Special Report:Global Financial Crisis

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 24 (Chinese media) -- American Jews, including the sprawling Jewish community in Los Angeles, are among those hard hit by the Madoff scandal, it was reported on Wednesday.

"The list of Jewish organizations and philanthropies harmed in Madoff's alleged investment fraud features revered names on both coasts: Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, Yeshiva University in New York, the Manhattan-based women's organization Hadassah," the Los Angeles Times said.

The scandal has hit Jews particularly hard because it connects to two deeply felt emotions: reverence for Jewish charity and anxiety about what the rest of the world thinks of Jews, the paper noted.

Among the victims were well-known Jewish philanthropists and organizations -- including the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and Yeshiva University. Madoff had served as a trustee of the university, which lost an estimated 110 million U.S. dollars, according to the paper.

"It's a desecration of God's name and the Jewish people who worship God," Rabbi Elliot Dorff, a philosophy professor at American Jewish University in Los Angeles, said.

Dorff sits on the boards of two Jewish agencies that lost money.

Wall Street financier Bernard L. Madoff's alleged Ponzi scheme has ensnared banks, schools, individual investors and a wide variety of nonprofit organizations. The scheme is believed to have cost investors 50 billion dollars.

"Madoff does not represent the Jewish people, not even remotely," the paper quoted Rabbi Jonathan Klein of the Progressive Jewish Alliance as saying. "Internally, we have to hold ourselves to the highest standard possible because we know our tradition demands justice and decency."

Many Jews worry about the Madoff allegations providing fodder for extremist rants about Jews being greedy, the paper noted.

In fact, the Anti-Defamation League has reported an uptick in anti-Semitic material on the Internet since the Madoff story broke last week, according to the paper.

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