Anxiety and Betrayal

Engaging and listening to conversations, reading through all the various articles, blogs – including reader comments – along with emails (from communal professionals) the two words anxiety and betrayal pretty much sum up feelings in the Jewish world these days. With good reason.

And again this week, it appears that the funding crisis will take front page in American Jewish newspapers.

First, the Salem (Massachusetts) News has this insightful interview with Robert Lappin:

Lappin: ‘It breaks my heart’

“I am not sure which programs, if any, will resume. I am in the process of assessing what can be salvaged.”

the next four articles are all from the Los Angeles Jewish Journal:

The Four Big Madoff Questions: Who’s to blame, how much is lost, where’s the money, will it occur again?

Why is this fraud different from all other frauds?

The Bernard L. Madoff Ponzi scheme will definitely rewrite the record books when it comes to its dollar size, duration, number of victims, concentration within the Jewish community and, yes, the mountain of legal fees it generates.

So say fraud investigators, asset hunters, plaintiffs’ attorneys and a former federal prosecutor, all of whom also go out of their way to caution that some of what has already been publicly reported in this case will undoubtedly turn out to include inaccuracies.

There is still so much to discover and uncover.

Jewish Money

Give Bernard Madoff credit for one good deed: As much as his self-confessed Ponzi scheme revealed weaknesses in the Jewish world, it also laid bare many of our strengths.

Trials and tribulations tend to do just that — bring to light the good, the bad, the ugly. When some people behave at their worst, others are forced to, or revealed to, behave at their humanly best…

It’s not just that Madoff’s victims were disproportionately Jewish. (That fact alone should give pause to the idea that we possess some super-Spidey sense of financial acumen.)

It’s that the list of victims reveals something truly remarkable about the Jewish world: its deep and far-reaching philanthropy.

Financial tsunami shakes Jewish Community Foundation

“But I think the damage is greater than the numbers — the damage in people’s trust and the damage in the whole philanthropic ideal and the fact that this hit on top of the economy are making people not want to part with their money,” said Harriet Rossetto, (Beit T’Shuvah) founder and CEO. “We haven’t seen the extent of the damage here. It is going to keep being a domino effect — things people haven’t even thought of yet.”

Madoff’s Redemption

Every day, thousands of deals are made in our community, one Jew trusting another Jew and no one getting ripped off. We don’t hear about these, precisely because no one gets ripped off. There’s no doubt we ought to do more due diligence at all levels of Jewish philanthropy, and I’m sure that as a result of this scandal, we will. But let’s not kid ourselves: For as long as there are human beings, trust will play a central role in the affairs of men.