Thursday, December 11, 2008

New York Magazine Investigative Reporter Seeking Sexual Abuse Survivors In The Orthodox Jewish Community

UOJ ARCHIVES MARCH 10, 2006 - 9:47 AM

And they thought I was bluffing!

I would ask everyone to send an e-mail to Bob, and tell him what a difference he's made with his award-winning article. We all owe him a huge debt of gratitude! Thanks once again Bob --- big-time!




My name is Bob Kolker, and I am a writer for New York magazine.
I am writing an investigative story about sexual abuse in
New York's Orthodox Jewish community, and I am writing this message in hopes of reaching out to people who are based in New York.

Specifically, I am hoping to interview survivors and tell their stories.

I understand that being interviewed might be a painful and difficult
thing to ask. But I have learned from interviews with experts how the
reporting of abuse is sketchy and perhaps even frowned upon
in certain parts of the Orthodox Jewish community.

The very difficult challenge I have ahead of me with
this story is to find the most accurate and sensitive way
to describe the difficulties suvivors have had in reporting
their abuse and getting the help they need. The best way to describe this to readers, I feel, is to interview survivors personally and learn what they went through.

The obvious goal of this story is to try to prevent future victims of
abuse from having the same problems. I hope that this story, as a work of advocacy journalism, can help raise awareness and sensitivity to this issue and to work toward the removal of a stigma for people who have been abused.

But for equally obvious reasons, I'm dedicated to being sensitive
toward my interviewees for this story.

Of course, I am more than willing to protect your anonymity
and to work with you on exactly how you would like your story to be presented. My only requirement is that I must interview people from the New York area.

A brief word about me: I have been a writer for New York magazine for seven years. I write mainly about public policy and criminal justice. My past stories include an investigation of airport safety and a close look at New York's public education.

Once again, I hope this isn't too much of an intrusion, but with your
help I am hoping to raise awareness and sensitivity to this issue.

You can call me any time at 212-508-0811, or email me at: robert_kolker@newyorkmag.com

Many thanks for your assistance,

Bob Kolker
Robert Kolker
Contributing Editor
New York Magazine
444 Madison Ave.
New York, NY 10022
office: 212-508-0811
mobile: 917-743-9843


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Sex Ed and the City
By Robert Kolker

The latest teacher-student sex scandal is just the tip of the iceberg for Ed Stancik, the school system's unapologetically strident investigator.Ed Stancik, the public schools' dogged special commissioner of investigation, seemed a little overzealous when he not only charged a Sheepshead Bay High School teacher with sex abuse but also suspended another teacher who befriended the teen victim and eventually convinced her to blow the whistle in the first place. But Stancik can explain. In his ten years on the job, he's seen the problem of school sex abuse get worse -- partly because, he insists, too many cases are bungled by self-appointed Poirots before his own trained staff gets a crack at them.

When he's not busting teachers for rigging test scores or exposing principals who inflate attendance figures, Stancik devotes a full quarter of his office's manpower to sex scandals -- and because of the current teacher shortage, which has forced the system to rely on 10,000 uncertified teachers, Stancik predicts that his sex-abuse caseload may only rise. "We have seen some truly frightening people sneak in," Stancik told me recently. "There's only so much screening you can do. You definitely see where the desire to get a live body in the classroom leads to mistakes in hiring."

The Sheepshead Bay case -- in which Stancik moved to fire the 62-year-old alleged molester as well as the 29-year-old English teacher who finally talked the victim into coming forward -- shows how Stancik reacts when he learns an incident has been kept from him. In the past ten years, besides verifying charges against almost 400 abusers, he's identified more than 200 Board of Ed employees who mishandled the reporting of sex-related incidents. "I can't tell you the number of times our sex investigations have been hindered by sloppy, slipshod internal investigations," Stancik says. "These people treat the incidents like it's their own episode of NYPD Blue. Sex-abuse investigations are complicated; they're skill-intensive. Some teachers are well-meaning, but can't do it."

Which explains why Stancik's report branded the victim's friendship with teacher Peter Cennamo "inappropriate," and called for his dismissal. While others are wondering if Cennamo really was romancing the student (which both teacher and student deny), to Stancik that's almost beside the point. "I'm surprised that the Board of Ed doesn't discipline its people for failing to report these incidents promptly," Stancik says. And if the board won't do it, he will -- something Cennamo is learning too late.

Anonymous said...

hey uoj tough guy---why is this writer looking for people if you have them already??like i said before margo and kolko will outlast you and your whole retarded team of insecure bastards

Paul Mendlowitz said...

Kol hamarbeh harei zeh m'shubach!

Hey above anon...put your money where your big mouth is...$1 million each in Elliot Pasik's attorney/client account!

Anonymous said...

i thought you may appreciate this article.
taken from harry maryles`s site

Friday, March 10, 2006
Tinokos SheNishbu... of Another Kind

The Yated Ne’eman published a correspondence by a Charedi English teacher in the US critical of the current negative attitude by Charedi parents towards secular education. This... in and of itself was a pleasant surprise since the Yated has had no love lost for secular education in the past and has always been very clear about this. But then my “hot” button was pressed because of the following story and comment (in part) I read on an e-mail list to which I belong sent by someone from the city of Ramat Bet Shemesh in Israel:

“About 2 months ago, we had the 10 year old son of a neighbor (ok, the son was also a neighbor...) staying with us for several days while his parents were in America. We were playing a game of Risk, and I was trying to teach him the names of the countries (despite being a native English speaker, he does not really read English well, if at all, having grown up since age 5 or so in Israel). He was attacking from Kamchatka ... After pointing out Kamchatka, I told him that no matter what he does in life, no matter how much (or how little he learns), I think he'll find that the only people in life who know where Kamchatka is are Risk players”

“... He responded by (politely) informing me that "I don't need to know that stupid [sic] stuff. I'm going to be a Rebbe when I grow up." To be fair, someone who plans to grow up in Israel (even though his family refuses to become citizens due to concerns about having to serve in the Army) may not need the same level of secular education as a student in the States, but, having clarified with the father, this is a (virtually) verbatim quote from the Rebbe. Perhaps I'm just placing my own (American) bias on things-- but I'd find it hard to respect anyone (Rebbe or not) who can disparage the idea of knowing the name (!) of a country as too stupid to bother caring about.”

OK... “I’ve been there and done that”. I don’t really like to just repeat myself. I’ve stated my views about the state of Charedi education in Israel... many times... in many places and in many ways. But whenever I hear a story like this it really upsets me and I can’t help but respond... especially in an American enclave like Ramat Bet Shemesh which is so heavily populated by Americans, my own son included.

How many 10 year old children in the majority camp ...which is the Charedi one... know how to read English, even if their parents are Americans? English is far too important to ignore if one is going to try and earn a living in an increasingly globalized economy. More and more good jobs will require it. The negative attitude about secular studies combined with the type of indoctrination that teaches that becoming a Rebbe (...not a Chasidic Rebbe, but a Mechanech) is the ultimate goal of a Torah Jew ...is so pervasive, it seems, that it defies logic!

The Rebbeim in these schools often become role models for these young and impressionable children. Young boys who can recite great numbers of Mishnayos by heart barely know how to recite the English alphabet.

Instead of learning something important like how to read English there is an emphasis on Narshkeitin. For example, I was told of one Rebbe in a Ramat Bet Shemesh non-Chasidic Cheder who went to Uman for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. UMAN!

In another case, an elementary school Rebbe is a heavy smoker (which he at least does outside the classroom as per the schools requirements... but it is known to the students). Are these the kinds of people that Charedim want as role models for a young non-Chasidic child? What is this school, thinking? I asked my son about the Uman thing and he said it upset him too but what could he do... This is the Charedi system! There is nothing anyone can do about it.

Is that true? Are Charedim stuck with a system that so poorly educates American children, indoctrinates them so counter-productively, and has Rebbeim that are such bad role models for them?

This can’t end well. Things have to change.

Anonymous said...

The Rebbeim in these schools often become role models for these young and impressionable children. Young boys who can recite great numbers of Mishnayos by heart barely know how to recite the English alphabet.
not just the english alphabet but hebrew is difficult for them too if they are american . They just swallow up the words and read run- on sentences all the time, which is an indication that they dont know the meaning of what they are reaqding. But the GEDOLIM keep on pushing yiddish , thats really helpful!

Ronnie Schreiber said...

I don't care if the rebbe smokes. I'm more concerned about the kids hearing him say something stupid or racist.

My daughter's school has a policy, like may Jewish schools, of students being prohibited from directly contradicting a teacher. When the teacher makes a mistake they expect the girls to do this verbal dance: is it possible that the teacher was mistaken etc.

This does nothing but promote disrepect for the whole process, particulary when the students are bright and literate and the teacher is maybe 21 and has a year or two of seminary and a secular teaching certificate, but no real knowledge of the subject matter. I can't remember the particular word, but back when she was in junior high or maybe even earlier, she asked me what a word meant. It was some four syllable word, so I asked her what she thought it meant and she gave me the correct definition, then told me how her teacher had "corrected" her in front of the class with the wrong definition. But then, this is a school that sent home notices from the office about "grammer".

Ronnie Schreiber said...

The only kids that I've met who come out of a high school yeshiva with enough functional literacy in Hebrew to understand the siddur are the ones who went to day schools for K-8.

Rabbi Gettinger at the South Bend yeshiva told me that the boys from day schools come in with a deficit in Gemara because they haven't put in the bench time, but that they quickly catch up and outpace the other boys because they aren't intimidated by something in a foreign language they haven't seen before.

I love the yeshiva kids who, when told that they are chutzpahdik, try to put a baal habayit down because they learn.

I also love it when some kid tells me "I don't need to learn math. My rebbe says that the Vilna Gaon figured out calculus from the Gemara". I tell them that when their rebbe can show me that he can demonstrate how the Gaon did it, well then he can maybe put down math classes.

Anonymous said...

1. Ben, first of all, I was the one who authored the letter to the Yated.
Knowing that you read the Yated religiously based on previous posts of yours, I wrote the letter and stuck in the phraseologies that I did, hoping that you fall for the trap and post the letter.
I can't tell you how happy I was when I logged on here on Motzoei Shabbos and saw that!
And you don't even realize why it was a trap.
You thought it was a simple letter that made references to gedolim cards and 'abusers.'
Apparently, you are not as shrewd as you make yourself out to be, Ben.

In case you don't believe it's me, here is the text of the letter from my computer, just as I sent it to the Yated:

Dear Editor,
I address this to the parents of the children who are caught up in the problem with gedolim cards.
Dear, suffering parents. Remember your goals, which are to raise kinderlach al derech haTorah. The photographers and marketers of these cards do not share your goals. They are in it to make money, which is why theses cards are printed, attractively packaged, and sold with the plan to withhold certain cards, which in turn, ensures more sales - and not necessarily more ahavas haTorah.
Please understand that any leader in any field (social, community, business, religious, etc.) has become a leader because he/she thinks “outside of the box.” This means that the person has unusual thinking patterns, which sometimes (not always) results in unusual success. Abusers also think “outside of the box.” This is what sustains their positions as leaders, even in the face of acute distress of those that they are taking advantage of. Their trick is to “out-think” the person or people that they are trying to manipulate. The trick to getting out from under a problem, is to out-think even those who think outside of the box by thinking outside of the box yourself.
Firstly, hang on to your goal of raising good, frum, emesdike kinderlach. While you keep that goal in mind, whatever you come up with must be different than what you have been doing until now, since the same type of thinking that got you into the problem is not going to get you out of it! So change how you approach the ideal of raising your child. Think of new ways to do it.
Here is one “outside of the box” solution. Call up Torah Umesorah, Artscroll, the Agudah, and your local Hebrew Library - whatever - and get any article, essay, etc. that has a photo of your child’s “missing” gadol. Get a copy of it and present it to your son. Do they need a face from the actual set? No, they need the missing face, because the goal is to see the faces of our great leaders. Get any photo. If they are sorry about this paltry replacement (because they want it to match the set), remind them what the overall goal is, and how it can be accomplished in more ways than one.
Alternatively, get a list of the gedolim, and collect your own photos from numerous sources! I myself have a “Tzaddik Album” at home where I paste in whatever nice photos of gedolim come along. This hobby has no parameters. It just unfolds with time and is kept among the family albums.
Remember that people who abuse the system get away with their behaviors because they confuse and frustrate the rest of the world who walk on more common ground. In order to stop them, it will not help to “speak to the hanhala” or take any normal, common action. Normal, common actions is what makes abusers laugh. They expect “normal” and base their game-plan on the well-meaning, generally innocent masses. To get back control of your own children you, too, must think outside of the box. Take your sanity, pocketbook and child back from the grips of a phenomenon that has simply gotten out of control.
Hatzlach rabba.
E. F.
Queens, N.Y.

2. You are on an important mission, though I do doubt your integrity, honesty and sincerity, and I also doubt the way you are going about your campaign.

My biggest question to you is:

You claim to have bonafide, solid proof against a specific rebbi.
You are willing to swear on it from today to tomorrow.

Yet, you have two lawyers, Herman and the other fellow, practically begging for people to come forward.

Now, hold on a second. If you are so far ahead and have everything worked out, why don't you go straight to the courts and the legal system, rather than sitting on this blog and writing post after post which seem to progressively make light of the whole matter.

What are you waiting for?
Go ahead with it!
Unless, things aren't what you make them out to be...

Might I conjecture that you don't have what you say you do?

Might I say that the attention you've gotten from this blog has gotten to your head and want it to last?

The last thing you want is a quick legal matter that is solved one way or another.

You want this to drag out so that you can bask in the light of the attention the blog has received.

That combined with the fact that you actually don't have ANY factual concrete stories is what keeps you going day after day posting stupidity after stupidity.

Ben, of course, you will continue to make believe like this isn't your blog.

You'll make believe like you know nothing about it and have nothing to do with it.

While you do have some assistance, you were the first one in this campaign.....
I won't wwrite more about that bec., I don't really care for you to know how we know that it is you.

We'd rather you sit and sweat it out trying to figure out how we have you all figured out.

It is a blog based on allegations that have no backing.

Granted, you've made some people's lives miserable via your blog.
Hopefully,m that makes you happy, bec. you have nothing to go forward with.

Good luck, Ben.

Keep living your double life.

But some nuances of your behavior in real life continue to shed light on your double identity.

Good luck.


Anonymous said...

i just wonder if this pinky from yeted is non other then pichus lip-shits?
wouldnt surprise me , based on several factors

Anonymous said...

Hey double

sorry to burst your bubble but beneath all your doubletalk spook stuff i smell an undercurrent of fear. if you were really convinced there was nothing out there you would sit back and relax rather make your ridiculous comments which truly make no sense. your twisted mind fails to comprehend that margo was being given a chance to make things right before the storm hits. a chance he doesn't deserve. a chance that the kids whose lives were destroyed by him and kolko never had. but you know what, margo blew his chance because he's being advised by yes men and half-wits like you who tell him what he wants to hear; that he should just dig his heels in and its all gonna go away. guess what its not going away. not because of ben or ouj or the lawyers or whichever other bogeyman you want to set up. its the victims -- stupid. the victims have reached majority and are speaking up and taking action just like with the catholic church. and all of margo's money and power will not be able to silence those victims. their rage and pain and fury is a force like no other which is rising up and will swallow all who get in its way.

Anonymous said...

I agree with double, well writen and to the point, but i really have to tell you guys, that i really really really dont like this blog or most of the posters who just sound like mumbling jumbling fools and idiots, its really a disgrace just to read most of you people.
Why cant we just wait and see what happens instead of opening our big mouths? Most of you really piss me off with your arrogant tones

Anonymous said...

Reading an Avi Shafran comment is like driving by a car wreck. It is mamash painful, but you can't help looking.

Is there any way to get him to move on to bigger and better career moves?

By the way, when it comes to sexual abuse, he is clearly one of the biggest deniers in our community. Someone who was not effected by it personally could not have such a strong defensive reaction.

Just a theory, that I've discussed with others. Avi was a close Talmid of Reb Mattis Weinberg, and followed him from Baltimore to California to help him start his Yeshivah/Diocese, where Mattis molested enough people to have to run away to Israel to avoid arrest. (Notice the man has not stepped foot back in California for over 25 years for fear of arrest, and has only come back to America once for his grandfather's levaya.)

Alternatively, Avi also spent time learning in Ner Yisroel while Rabbi Moshe (ass - man) Eiseman was the Mashgiach.

If Avi was molested by one of these "Gedolim" then he would have been traumatized and would need to deny it strongly, thereby creating a need for him to deny it even exists in our community.

Zweibel, on the other hand, can try to tell us that he was "unaware" until now how wide spread it was. He, apparently thought that the Yetzer Harah only was to be found in Roshei Yeshivah, Mashgichim and some Rabbis. He was shocked to hear that the average joe, might also be a molester. Apparently he must have reasoned that "kol hagadol m'chaveiro..." What an idiot!

Anonymous said...

"A great poet might opt to not shower," Shafran said, "but that bad habit doesn't necessarily affect the quality of his writing."

"Brilliant" analogy from the wise man of Chelem. In other words, one can defraud banks, abuse workers, abuse animals, commit identity theft and violate every safety and health code in the book, and still be considered trustworthy when it comes to kashrus. After all, MMW and the OU say he's trustworthy, and so does Avi and the Agudah. It's amazing that this chamor still gets attention and is asked for his opinion on anything. His stupidity is only superceded by his evilness.

Anonymous said...


I thought it was funny, if a little exaggerated, when UOJ started making the comparison. But seriously.

How the heck does the Agudah let Shafran be their face to the world when he talks like such a blithering idiot?!

Anonymous said...

lets remember aguda and schick all the deals were run by the aguda beis din

Paul Mendlowitz said...

Ladaat News Service

Jerusalem - The Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok Rebbe met this afternoon with members of the Rosenberg and Holtzberg families whose children died in the murderous attack on the Chabad center in Mumbai, India.

The meeting resulted from a phone conversation between the Rebbe and Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg this past Sunday, in which the Rebbe stated that he wanted to personally pay a shiva call to the Rosenbergs in Afula but found it hard after the shiva visits he had already made. The Rebbe asked if he could visit after the family completed shiva.

After completing shiva Tuesday and visiting Har Hazeisim, the Rosenberg and Holtzberg families traveled to visit the Rebbe. Also visiting the Rebbe was the Volover Rebbi of Brooklyn, the father of Rabbi Leibish Teitelbaum, who had also died in the attack.

Quoting the Zohar, the Rebbe said that after the crying and mourning of shiva,

---- "there must be happiness in accepting the event from Hashem."--


This last statement is so repulsive, anyone that buys this worldview is an ignoramus and a peasant!



Paul Mendlowitz said...

Business Pundit
December 11, 2008

Hank Paulson, Criminal?

Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz has an excellent summary of the dynamics behind the financial crisis in Vanity Fair. I wanted to cite the following passage (paragraph breaks are my own), because it’s a serious implication of Hank Paulson:

The original proposal by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a three-page document that would have provided $700 billion for the secretary to spend at his sole discretion, without oversight or judicial review, was an act of extraordinary arrogance. He sold the program as necessary to restore confidence.

But it didn’t address the underlying reasons for the loss of confidence. The banks had made too many bad loans. There were big holes in their balance sheets. No one knew what was truth and what was fiction. The bailout package was like a massive transfusion to a patient suffering from internal bleeding—and nothing was being done about the source of the problem, namely all those foreclosures. Valuable time was wasted as Paulson pushed his own plan, “cash for trash,” buying up the bad assets and putting the risk onto American taxpayers.

When he finally abandoned it, providing banks with money they needed, he did it in a way that not only cheated America’s taxpayers but failed to ensure that the banks would use the money to re-start lending. He even allowed the banks to pour out money to their shareholders as taxpayers were pouring money into the banks.

If Stiglitz is right, the media has been glazing over the severity of Paulson’s missteps. Stiglitz’s opinions do tend to run counter to mainstream verbiage–for example, he was one of the few experts who said this crisis would be as bad as the Great Depression, or worse–but he’s far too sound to dismiss as a left-wing doomsdayer.

When the bailout bill passed, it did so under a valence of desperation. We needed something. But I’m starting to think there’s an indictable offense nestled somewhere in Paulson’s behavior. I don’t say this as a partisan. There could be a serious offense in Obama’s campaign contributions, too.

I say this as someone who thinks she smells a rat.


Leah Gayle said...

Not only does Paulson's "Solution" not address the problem, he hasn't even identified the problem correctly.

The foreclosures themselves are only a symptom - the real reason people had to take out flaky mortgages in the first place is because the average american wage-earner can simply no longer afford the average priced home. Since the 80s when globalization began to be the solve-all of economics, wages and benefits for american workers have, in inflation adjusted dollars, actually been flat or fallen since the late 70s. Yet the prices of homes has gone up and up. It doesn't take a rocket scientist here to see that WAGES is the problem, NOT mortgages per se. Yes, the bankers could have lowered interest rates for FIXED reasonable mortgages, and yes, they took the greedy route instead. But conventional mortgages were still available - it's just that few can qualify for them with their depressed wages.

In order to REALLY solve the economic crisis, wages has to be greater than living expenses. You're NEVER going to get that to occur if the only jobs available are at wally-wort and micky d's. The "finanical" and "knowledge" based industries are OVER saturated with candidates - there are only so many of these types of jobs that a real, functional economy can support. We're way past that point. So if you eliminate manufacturing, you have basically created a permanent underclass of sub-living-wage workers whose only job prospects are at minimum wage "service" jobs - and surely you all know the midrash about the town that employed everyone by all taking in each other's laundry. It just doesn't work in real life.

Malach HaMovies said...


Anonymous said...

Vos Iz Neias is reporting that a Jewish girl was molested in Boro Park today. The family went to Dov Hikind, who apparently got four rabbis involved. Three supposedly said they did not want to get involved. One supposedly okayed their going to the police.

Meanwhile, time went by, and who knows who else was molested, and how much evidence was covered up, by this pedophile?

Are we living in Chelm? Are these rabbonim for real? Why doesn't someone publish the names of these enablers of evil, so the whole Jewish world can find out which rabbis do not want to get involved when a Jewish girl has been sexually molested? Have they no heart?

Anonymous said...

Bank of America plans to cut up to 35,000 jobs over the next three years as the giant lender adjusts to a recession and completes the pending acquisition of brokerage firm Merrill Lynch.

Leah Gayle said...

Anon 3:20

Hey, don't dis the people of Chelm. They were smarter than these guys - they didn't destroy Chelm the way these bozos are destroying us.

Paul Mendlowitz said...

From a dear chaver:


I especially loved Comment # 8:

“…these acts of molestation affect GENERATIONS, of our heilege neshomos, the one act that was done to this poor girl, will affect her, her entire life, it will effect her children and actually she may never be able to put this behind her, and here we have 3 Rabbonim who don’t want to get involved????!!! Then become plumbers or mechanics or janitors, why do we as a K'lal, need Rabbonim who refuse to fight for OUR neshomos? Ask yourself this question, it’s a good one! Rabbonim, are you embarrassed to deal with these situations? Well, too bad, you have a job to do and unfortunately this is a huge problem in our generation and so face it head on and investigate, educate yourselves in this matter, pursue the monsters who are destroying the very fabric of our people. These predators are truly murderers of the souls of our children. WAKE UP!! May Hashem help this girl get over this, may Hashem help all the victims. May the Ribono Shel Olam lift the Choshech off the eyes of the Rabbonim, to make a stand and pursue and protect.”

Anonymous said...

Ex-Nasdaq chair arrested on fraud charge

Thursday December 11, 6:40 pm ET
By Larry Neumeister, Associated Press Writer

Ex-Nasdaq chair Madoff arrested on securities fraud charge

NEW YORK (AP) -- A former Nasdaq stock market chairman was arrested on a securities fraud charge Thursday, accused of running a phony investment business that amounted to what prosecutors called a "giant Ponzi scheme."

Bernard L. Madoff was released on $10 million bail. He declined to comment as he walked out of court.

Madoff, 70, the founder of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, maintained a separate and secretive investment-advising business that served between 11 and 25 clients and had a total of about $17.1 billion in assets under management, prosecutors said.

They said he told employees Wednesday that it had been insolvent for years, losing at least $50 billion.

Madoff told employees he was "finished," that he had "absolutelly nothing," that "it's all just one big lie" and it was "basically, a giant Ponzi scheme," according to a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Defense lawyer Dan Horwitz called Madoff "a person of integrity" and said he intends to fight the charge.

If convicted, Madoff could face up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5 million.

Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC ranks among the top 1 percent of U.S. securities firms, according to the firm's Web site.

Prosecutors noted in a release that the Web site also notes: "Clients know that Bernard Madoff has a personal interest in maintaining an unblemished record of value, fair-dealing and high ethical standards that has always been the firm's hallmark."

Anonymous said...

Searching for the right metaphor between ethics and kashrut, I say it’s the same as personal hygiene to poetry. A great poet might opt to not shower, but that bad habit does not necessarily affect the quality of his writing. His poetry has to be judged separately from his hygiene. So while kosher food producers are certainly required without any doubt by halakha to act ethically in every aspect of their , any lapses on that score have no effect, I repeat, no effect, on the kashrut of the food they produce. The same applies to societal laws (labor laws that go beyond the letter of what the halakha may require)- all those things may indeed be mandates on a Jew, if nothing else, because of dina d’malchuta dina, but they are independent, once again, from kashrut. This is eminently clear from the Talmud and halakhic codes. And that is part of the objection I and others have to the heksher concepts- it confuses different Jewish concepts (and conflates them.)

That begs the larger question and more important question about whether Jewish producers should be held accountable for non-ethical behavior. Of course they should. Accountable, yes. But more accountable than merchants of Judaica, booksellers, educational institutions, ____ manufacturers? No. They are no more accountable. Each of us, no matter our profession, are accountable. The fact that what has been proposed is limited to food producers is baffling or perhaps telling. Jewish ethics is a meta-concept and not limited to kashrut.

Further adding to the objections I have to heksher tzedek is the fact that the plan was conceived in sin. Not a word I use lightly or often. The sin I am referring to is the sin of jumping to negative judgements of others. The impetus was the controversy of the company called Agriprocessors. Let me say right away that I don’t know them, have no connection to them and would not know a Rubashkin from a Rubik’s Cube. Therefore I do not know why/ I don’t know if they mistreated animals as PETA says- I don’t know; I don’t know if they ran meth amphetamine lab as a government affidavit said, I don’t know if they harassed employees, I don’t know if they hired underage employees, I don’t know. Neither do I. Neither does anyone, no matter what anyone thinks. What I do know and what all of us should know is that it is Jewishly wrong to assume guilt on the basis of accusations. It is, to put it clearly and simple, unethical- Jewishly unethical. And to create and to herald a new effort as a result of the accuasations against people disregards a clear Torah law called hotzaas sheim rah.

But let’s pretend that the heksher tzedek was conceived of out of the blue. Would that not be sufficient reason to create a mechanism so that the industry would better adhere to this? Yes, it would, and indeed in Jewish history, there are histories of Gedolei HaDor who instituted price controls, threatened recalcitrant merchants- the object in those cases is that those decisions are not decisions that any of us is necessarily qualified to make. If the term Orthodox Judaism has any meaning, it lies in reverence for the past and those who lie closer to the past than we. The proper way to explore whether a communal mechanism is warranted is to bring it to the attention of the elders of the community. There are of course different subcommunities in the Orthodox world which I don’t think I have to tell anyone here- but each has its elders. I don’t expect a Conservative Rabbi to acknowledge that fact- as non-Orthodox rabbis are based on progression, not on Mesorah and not on respect for elders. But those of us who calls ourselves Orthodox have to know on whose shoulders we stand and who the Torah teaches us to see as being the perceptive - thank you for listening.

Anonymous said...

Auto bailout talks collapse over union wages (AP)

AP - A $14 billion emergency bailout for U.S. automakers collapsed in the Senate Thursday night after the United Auto Workers refused to accede to Republican demands for swift wage cuts.

Anonymous said...

Shafran's opening paragraph is the Agudah's defense of molesters/abusers: Yes, they might have molested children, but that doesn't mean that they haven't taught thousands of children Torah and created many talmidei chachamim. We have to separate the two.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hikind claims he will "do the right thing" about the subpoena without betraying the names of any of the victims. While he will not hand over his complete list of alleged perpetrators, he says that "we are starting to share names" with Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.

If the community is willing to take more cases to the police rather than watching alleged perpetrators float from one community to another, where they will no doubt prey again, then great. But if they are not, if they succumb to the same social pressures that have paralyzed them for decades, then every day that goes by another community of children is at risk.

No matter what happens, though, Mr. Hikind promises not to reveal any victims' names. "I will not, God forbid, destroy a person's life all over again," he says. That's good. But let's hope another child's life is not destroyed either.


Hold your guts, some of the names will flip you out.

Anonymous said...

Who Will End the Abuse?


It began on the radio this summer. New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind ran a segment on his Saturday night talk show titled "We Are Only as Sick as Our Secrets: Sexual Abuse, Healing the Shame," featuring graphic accounts of sexual abuse of children in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn.

There had been a few high-profile cases before, but this "was when the floodgates opened," explained Mr. Hikind, an Orthodox Jew himself. Following the show, additional victims and their family members came forward to share with Mr. Hikind their own stories. "Cases of sexual abuse are not worse among the Orthodox," clarifies Mr. Hikind. "But when there's a problem and you don't deal with it, it gets worse." Over the past few months he has collected hundreds of testimonies spanning several decades, naming at least 50 alleged pedophiles across the tri-state Orthodox Jewish community, including well-respected rabbis and teachers.

But now these testimonies have become a source of contention. They have been subpoenaed for a civil suit by a lawyer representing six former students of Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, a longtime teacher at one of Borough Park's leading all-male yeshivas, who has been charged repeatedly since the 1980s with sexually molesting his students. (Last year Rabbi Kolko pleaded guilty to child endangerment.) The problem is that Mr. Hikind had sworn to keep the testimonies confidential.

Mr. Hikind claims he will "do the right thing" about the subpoena without betraying the names of any of the victims. While he will not hand over his complete list of alleged perpetrators, he says that "we are starting to share names" with Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.Many people give Mr. Hikind credit for bringing much needed attention to an issue in the Orthodox community that has frequently been swept under the rug. (One exception to the silent treatment was the Orthodox Union's creation of a special commission in 2000 to investigate the sexual abuse charges against Rabbi Baruch Lanner, leader of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, who was later convicted.) He also deserves credit for getting victims to talk at all. Mr. Hikind says that he encourages each victim who comes to him to go directly to the police, but no one is willing to. They are too afraid of the repercussions for themselves and their families in terms of reputation and marriageability.The trouble is that subpoena or no subpoena, he has valuable information that is not being effectively utilized to investigate the alleged offenders and get them off the streets. "Dov Hikind has decided that secrecy is a more worthwhile value than child protection," explains Marci A. Hamilton, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law and an expert in clergy law. By witholding the names of the perpetrators, "he is sharing in the responsibility of every child who is harmed by them."

What Mr. Hikind wants to do instead is tackle the issue from within the community. He has assembled a task force of rabbis, therapists, principals and pediatricians to help the community respond to cases of sexually abused children -- raising awareness, forming a registry of teachers (so that a teacher who is removed from one school does not simply go to another) and devising a system of investigating allegations. Investigation is extremely important, he adds, because "you have to make sure an innocent person is not being thrown to the wolves."While Mr. Hikind's effort is well-intentioned, Prof. Hamilton calls it "a doomed project." Resolving cases of sexual abuse without the legal establishment in this country "has never worked in any other religious community," she points out, citing the Catholic Church as an example. And the truth is, many rabbis agree with her. According to Rabbi Mark Dratch, the chief executive officer of JSAFE (The Jewish Institute Supporting an Abuse-Free Environment), "Rabbinic authorities do not have the expertise or ability to handle these things. Making reports [to the legal authorities] is the only way to go."

Mr. Hikind insists that his plan does not look to circumvent law enforcement, but to collaborate with it. The question, though, is if the ultra-Orthodox constituency that Mr. Hikind is working with will be a real partner in this endeavor. In the past, they have unfortunately been resistant, worrying more about the consequences of disparaging renowned Torah scholars than about protecting a child's life. Some rabbis in the community have even impeded the efforts of other rabbis who are willing to speak out and take action. Orthodox rabbi and psychologist Benzion Twerski resigned from Mr. Hikind's task force for fear of tarnishing his reputation and his family's reputation within the community. In Williamsburg, Rabbi Nuchum Rosenberg received threats for speaking out against abuse in his community.

So is Mr. Hikind's plan "doomed"? It depends. If the community is willing to take more cases to the police rather than watching alleged perpetrators float from one community to another, where they will no doubt prey again, then great. But if they are not, if they succumb to the same social pressures that have paralyzed them for decades, then every day that goes by another community of children is at risk.

No matter what happens, though, Mr. Hikind promises not to reveal any victims' names. "I will not, God forbid, destroy a person's life all over again," he says. That's good. But let's hope another child's life is not destroyed either.

Ms. Schwartz writes a monthly column for the Jewish Week.

Anonymous said...

Madoff is a Chairman & Trustee of YU. YU has quietly removed his name from their website.

Any idea if Madoff is orthodox?

You don't have to be orthodox to be an officer of YU or even Artscroll.

Mind you, the impact of this fraud is absolutely staggering.

There was a big deal about the Bayou hedge fund fraud but that was only $400 million - this is $18 billion.

How did Madoff sleep at night? Shmarya is just scratching the surface and seems to have no idea how many charitable organizations & other funds are being taken down by this.

Madoff was a fund of funds and access to him was like the proverbial gold card. His trick was to provide a 600% return in 10 years. A lot of investors paid taxes outside the shelter and are going to try to get a refund from the IRS because the profits never actually existed.

Anonymous said...

100% return in one year and you got to ride in his helicopter.

Anonymous said...

Shmarya is trying to keep on top of the Madoff story, but I will give some scoops to UOJ.

2 accountants in Monsey named Friehling & Horowitz who work out of rented cubicles in a 15 square foot space are being accused by due dilligence advisor Aksia of helping Madoff conceal the fraud. Aksia was suspicious of Madoff's gains of up to 80% per year and staked him & the Monsey clowns out for 18 months. They then started telling all their clients to stay the hell away from him.

This is all very shocking to anyone on Wall St who knew him. Madoff was probably the most seemingly honest trusted figure to come to mind.

David Friehling is a Cornell grad who is a trustee and on the board of the Rockland JCC-Y.

Anonymous said...

$50 billion is probably not the final figure of how much was leveraged off the original $18 billion.

Madoff is probably the biggest Ponzi scheme in history.

Anonymous said...


Oil prices may crash as low as $10 a barrel, says Devina Mehra, chief strategist at First Global. She explains her extremely bearish outlook on oil.

Anonymous said...

Belsky advises me to hide under my Duxiana mattress. Now that I'm using TARP funds to bail out the Detroit automakers because Congress won't, he thinks that UOJ is coming for me.

Anonymous said...

Is Eckstein using Seidenfeld's helicopter now?

Paul Mendlowitz said...

Chump change in comparison to what Hank Paulson did!

The World's Biggest Ever Heist
Friday December 12, 2008, 1:28 am EST

Buzz Print
I still can't quite get my head around the enormity of the numbers in the Madoff case. For one thing,
Madoff's investment advisory business served between 11 and 25 clients and had a total of about $17.1 billion in assets under management.

Now that's what I call high net worth individuals! And then you read the indictment, and you think you know what to expect, until:

On Dec. 10, 2008, Madoff informed the Senior Employees, in substance, that his investment advisory business was a fraud. Madoff stated that he was "finished," that he had "absolutely nothing," that "it's all just one big lie," and that it was "basically, a giant Ponzi scheme. Madoff stated that the business was insolvent, and that it had been for years. Madoff also stated that he estimated the losses from this fraud to be at least approximately $50 billion.

Yep, $50 billion. In other words, that $17.1 billion is only the beginning: presumably Madoff's clients had invested much more than that, and Madoff was sending statements to them, on the one hand, while reporting different numbers to the SEC, on the other -- none of which were true.

If the total losses are really $50 billion, that means that the average loss to Madoff's clients is a minimum of $2 billion, and perhaps as much as $4.5 billion. After all, in a Ponzi scheme, everybody comes out fine, except the last people out: the 11 to 25 clients still with Madoff to this day.

The one thing this does do is get me a little bit more comfortable with Jeffrey Epstein's business plan of managing billionaires' money. Clearly there are actually quite a lot of people with a few billion dollars to invest and who feel perfectly comfortable entrusting it to individuals like Madoff and Epstein. Who knew?

Right now, there are a handful people whose world has suddenly been turned upside-down: who have, overnight, suddenly lost billions of dollars of dynastic wealth to a Wall Street con man. I'm sure that their names will appear sooner or later. But there really is no precedent that I can think of: when has one man ever managed to steal $50 billion dollars? If the $100 million Harry Winston heist in Paris was the "steal of the century", what's this?.

Anonymous said...

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In an unprecedented move, the Illinois attorney general asked the state's highest court Friday to strip scandal-plagued Gov. Rod Blagojevich of his powers.

Lisa Madigan took the action as pressure on the governor intensified to step down and lawmakers considered impeachment.

"I recognize that this is an extraordinary request, but these are extraordinary circumstances," Madigan said at a news conference.

It was not immediately clear when the Supreme Court might take up the matter. The justices also have the discretion to deny the attorney general's request.

The move came as the governor prayed with several ministers in his home before heading to his office, telling them he is innocent and will be vindicated "when you hear each chapter completely written," according to one of the pastors.

The attorney general asked the court for a temporary restraining order or an injunction that prevents Blagojevich from serving as governor. The filing says he is "unable to serve as governor due to disability and should not rightfully continue to hold that office."

"The pervasive nature and severity of these pending charges disable Mr. Blagojevich from making effective decisions on critical, time-sensitive issues," the filing said.

The filing asks that the lieutenant governor assume Blagojevich's powers.

It is the first time in Illinois history that such an action was taken. The attorney general is applying a rule that was intended to cover cases where a governor is incapacitated for health reasons. Her motion indicates that his inability to serve because of the scandal is akin to a debilitating health issue.

The motion essentially declares that Blagojevich's legal problems amount to a disability that would not be resolved until he is either cleared of the charges or leaves office.

"Mr. Blagojevich is unable to distinguish between his financial interests and his official duties and between illegal acts and legal conduct, rendering him incapable of legitimately exercising his ability as governor," Madigan says in the motion.

"His ability to provide effective leadership has been eliminated and the state government is paralyzed."

The motion came three days after Blagojevich was accused of putting Barack Obama's Senate seat up for sale and shaking down the owners of the Chicago Tribune.

The decision to go to the state's highest court was not welcomed by everyone. Democratic Rep. Jack Franks said it would set "a dangerous precedent" for the court to remove a governor as Madigan proposes. Franks, a fierce Blagojevich critic, said that kind of decision should be left to the General Assembly.

"That's our job, and we should be doing it," he said.

The governor has been alternately holed up in his home or his downtown office since his arrest on federal corruption charges. He met with clergymen Friday morning.

The Rev. Ira Acree of the Greater St. John Bible Church said Blagojevich would not discuss details of the allegations against him.

He said the governor discussed trying to get a legal and political consultation team in place, but feels as if everything is closing in on him and that he's not getting "any space or chance to sort anything out."

Acree and two other pastors — The Rev. Steve Jones, president of the Baptist Pastor's Conference, and the Rev. Marshall Hatch of the New Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church — arrived at the governor's home shortly after 8 a.m. and met with him for about 20 minutes.

Jones said they prayed with Blagojevich and his family.

"I look at it like this: Everybody that's hurting needs hope and the family needs hope and that's what our jobs are as pastors," Jones said. "Nobody should be left hopeless. Nobody, no matter what the circumstances."

Shortly after they left, a fourth minister, the Rev. Leonard Barr of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, arrived at the governor's house with his wife, Rita.

He said they were invited by the governor and that the two "prayed that he would continue to be a great governor for the state of Illinois."

Meanwhile, calls for the governor to step down are intensifying. The lieutenant governor has joined a bevy of lawmakers in demanding that Blagojevich be impeached, saying he has become an embarrassment to the state and can no longer lead. His approval rating plummeted to a shockingly low 8 percent.

"When you have no confidence from the people, in a democracy there's nowhere else to go but to resign," Lt. Pat Quinn said Thursday.

Anonymous said...

I'm against Ponzi Schemes of any kind.

Ex-Nasdaq chairman arrested on fraud charge in NYC
Friday December 12, 1:07 pm ET
By Larry Neumeister, Associated Press Writer
Ex-Nasdaq chairman arrested on securities fraud charge in NYC; accused of $50B `Ponzi scheme'

Anonymous said...

I was afraid of this. I just saw the letter that Ezra Merkin sent to clients this morning about how shocked he is to have been burned by Madoff.

It seems that Merkin put Ascott funds in Madoff's pot. It's not clear if this extends to other Merkin funds like Gabriel & Cerberus.

Heck, why doesn't the Treasury bail out Madoff while they're at it if he's just an extension of Chrysler?

Anonymous said...

Bernie Madoff is an honorable man.

Anonymous said...

If Madoff is smart, he will do like I did and masser on his investors who weren't paying taxes to save his own neck.

Then he can join me at Rabbi Fisher's shul on Ave I. That's where I started davening when the guys I burned at Frankel's shul wanted to kill me.

Anonymous said...

I used to work on Wall St. My contacts tell me that another astounding thing about Madoff's fraud is that he completely cleaned the fund out leaving barely a cent.

There is going to be a big uproar and a lot of ashen faces this Shabbos at the 5th Ave shul. I would bet that Ira Rennert and many others got scammed by him too.

Anonymous said...

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jim Rogers, one of the world's most prominent international investors, on Thursday called most of the largest U.S. banks "totally bankrupt," and said government efforts to fix the sector are wrongheaded.

Speaking by teleconference at the Reuters Investment Outlook 2009 Summit, the co-founder with George Soros of the Quantum Fund, said the government's $700 billion rescue package for the sector doesn't address how banks manage their balance sheets, and instead rewards weaker lenders with new capital.

Anonymous said...

Well, the good news is just as I suspected. At least Madoff didn't molest anyone which is something largely done by goyim.

Anonymous said...

Madoff has just bankrupted just about every member of the tribe in Palm Beach, Florida.

Some very prominent haymishe names that are a lot less wealthy today are the Wilpon family who own the NY Mets and the Loeb family.

Anonymous said...



Bernard L. Madoff, a former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market and a force in Wall Street trading for nearly 50 years, was arrested by federal agents Thursday, a day after his sons turned him in for running what they said their father called "a giant Ponzi scheme."

The complaint did not name the two senior employees. But according to people familiar with the matter, they are Mr. Madoff's sons, Andrew and Mark. Mark Madoff is the firm's senior managing director and chief compliance officer. Andrew Madoff is its director of trading.

A call to the sons' attorney was not returned.

Both complaints say Mr. Madoff told his sons he believed losses from his fraud exceeded $50 billion.

Such a scheme would dwarf past Ponzi schemes. It would also be nearly five times larger than the accounting fraud that drove telecom company WorldCom into bankruptcy proceedings in 2002.

The criminal complaint said that when Mr. Cacioppi and another agent went to Mr. Madoff's apartment Thursday, Mr. Madoff told them: "There is no innocent explanation." Mr. Madoff told the agents that "he paid investors with money that wasn't there," adding that he was "broke" and had decided "it could not go on." He said he expected to go to jail.

Mr. Madoff told one of his sons that "clients had requested approximately $7 billion in redemptions, that he was struggling to obtain the liquidity necessary to meet those obligations." On Tuesday, the complaint alleges, Mr. Madoff added that he wanted to pay bonuses to employees this month, which was earlier than usual.

The next day, the sons met with Mr. Madoff at his office to ask about the bonus situation because he had appeared to be under "great stress" in prior weeks, they told the FBI. Mr. Madoff refused to answer their questions and arranged to meet them at his Manhattan apartment, the complaint says.

Mr. Madoff "wasn't sure he would be able to hold it together" if they continued to discuss the issue at the office, the complaint quotes one of the sons as saying. At the apartment, Mr. Madoff confessed that his business was a fraud and that he was "finished." He said he had "absolutely nothing," that "it's all just one big lie," and that it was "basically, a giant Ponzi scheme." He told them the firm was insolvent, according to the complaint.

Mr. Madoff told them he planned to surrender to authorities, but first, he wanted to pay certain employees portions of the $200 million to $300 million dollars that was left.

According to a person familiar with the firm, the sons brought the matter to the attention of their attorney, who notified federal officials Wednesday night.

Since its inception almost a half-century ago, the Madoff firm has been a family affair. Mr. Madoff started his company with $5,000 he saved from a lifeguarding at Rockaway Beach in Queens and a job installing underground sprinkler systems, according to a 2000 report in a trade magazine, "Wall Street + Technology."

Mr. Madoff's brother, Peter Madoff, joined the firm around 1970 and is the senior managing director. Peter Madoff did not return calls for comment.

The two sons, Andrew and Mark, have worked for the securities firm since graduating from college 20 or so years ago. Neither is involved in the asset-management business that their father runs, according to a person familiar with the situation.

According to a 1986 report in a monthly financial magazine, Financial World, titled "The Highest Paid People on Wall Street," Mr. Madoff owned three homes and kept a yacht moored in the Bahamas. The report said he earned $6 million in 1985. Property records show at one point he owned a home in Montauk, N.Y., and paid more than a $1 million in annual taxes. He has made major donations to Democratic candidates and organizations.

Anonymous said...

Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Bernard L. Madoff, the investment adviser who allegedly called his firm “one big lie” before being arrested in a potential $50 billion fraud, squandered money from his friends and neighbors, lawyers said.

Two New York lawyers, who plan to sue Madoff as early as today on behalf of dozens of individual clients, said some of the 70-year-old manager’s once-wealthy investors are now destitute and unsure how they will pay their rent.

“Many were members of his social community -- many were his friends,” Stephen Weiss, a lawyer with Seeger Weiss in New York, said today in front of the federal courthouse in Manhattan. The “panicked” investors include doctors and retirees, he said.

Anonymous said...


I'm Fred Wilpon's shvogger. Our mishpuche owns a lot more than the NY Mets.

Anonymous said...

Saul Katz is also chairman of the board of Long Island Jewish hospital.

Anonymous said...


By Pat Kinney
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
Updated: 12/12/2008 01:31:48 PM CST

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Federal officials are seeking to seize the corporate name and trademarks of Agriprocessors Inc. in a modified criminal indictment filed in federal court Thursday.

The indictment, filed in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids, specifies Agriprocessors' corporate name, trademarks and corporate stock as being subject to forfeiture, including the trademarks Iowa Best Beef, Shor Habor, Aaron's Best and Rubashkin.

The document "seeks the forfeiture of all proceeds of the alleged offenses" of harboring undocumented aliens for profit and conspiracy to to harbor undocumented aliens for profit. It also seeks the forfeiture of all property used to facilitate the offenses, including the company name and trademarks, federal prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Iowa said in a press release.

Anonymous said...

No word on Torah Temimah, conceived with Margo's thievery.


Shafran, a longtime critic of Hekhsher Tzedek, blasted the initiative as having been “conceived in sin” — namely, “the sin of jumping to negative judgments of others.”

Anonymous said...

Chicago, IL - President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had direct conversations with Gov. Rod Blagojevich about Obama's replacement in the US Senate, FOX News Chicago reports.

Citing "a source familiar with the investigation," Fox says that Emanuel had "multiple conversations" with Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris, who was also arrested Tuesday on federal corruption charges, about the seat and that they we're "likely recorded and in FBI possession."

Fox's source said that Emanuel gave the governor's office a list of "candidates that would be acceptable to President-elect Barack Obama" but no "quid pro quo" or "dealmaking" is suspected.

Anonymous said...

SEC seeks to salvage assets of NY financier

Friday December 12, 3:27 pm ET

By Larry Neumeister, Associated Press Writer

SEC seeks control of NY financier's assets; panicked investors, many elderly, fear worst

NEW YORK (AP) -- The implosion of a Wall Street firm whose owner is accused in a $50 billion swindle left regulators scrambling to seize control of its assets Friday as dozens of investors worried that they had gone from rich to poor overnight.

The collapse of Bernard L. Madoff's company came just hours before his arrest Thursday on a single securities fraud count. Madoff, who allegedly told his employees he was running a "giant Ponzi scheme," was freed on $10 million bail.

Officials with the Securities and Exchange Commission were due in federal court Friday after a judge put a temporary hold on some assets of the firm until a court-appointed receiver could take control of its finances.

Fear ran deep for investors in Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. Stephen A. Weiss, who said he had spoken to at least 30 of them, said some entrusted all of their savings to Madoff, who had delivered steady returns for decades.

"They were living comfortable lives and serene retirements and by the late afternoon their lives were thrown into a spiral of horror," Weiss said. "These people are panicked. These people are sorrowful. These people are angry. And many are now destitute."

One investor, Lawrence Velvel, 69, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, said he and a friend may have lost millions of dollars between them.

"This is a major disaster for a lot of people," Velvel said in a telephone interview from his Andover, Mass., office. "You work all your life, you finally manage to save up something, and somebody who's entrusted with it, it turns out suddenly he's a crook. Lots of people are getting fully or partially wiped out."

Velvel said he wants to know where government regulators, as well as accountants and others at Madoff's company, were when the money was being lost.

According to a criminal complaint filed with the court, Madoff told senior employees of his firm Wednesday that he had blown more than $50 billion with fraudulent financial moves, that he was "finished" and that he had "absolutely nothing." The FBI said Friday that family members turned Madoff in after he confessed his fraud to them.

Madoff's lawyer, Dan Horwitz, said his client was "a longstanding leader in the financial-services industry with an unblemished record" and would "fight to get through this unfortunate event."

Madoff, a former Nasdaq stock market chairman, founded his firm in 1960, using $5,000 he earned in part as a lifeguard on Long Island beaches. In the industry, he had a reputation for safe investments and steady returns that made individual investors eager to place their money with him and competitors suspicious of his success.

Marc Powers, a former SEC enforcement branch chief and head of the securities practice at Baker Hostetler, said Madoff was "a very well respected, highly regarded person" on Wall Street.

"Everybody heard of him," he said, noting his firm had received calls from investors Friday worried about their future. "There's a shell shock that's going on now. This ruins people's lives. It destroys whatever they built up over 40 years at the hands of a person they trusted."

Velvel said he listened to Madoff's employees explain how the firm made profits in good times and bad through computerized trading on blue-chip stocks and options, enabling small and steady profits on scores of trades.

"It made all the bloody sense in the world," he said. "The way we understood, they never went for the big hits. If you take a percent here, a half percent there, this can add up to what Makoff was saying."

Anonymous said...

So then Obama lied when he swore that no one from his staff spoke to Blagojeputz.

Anonymous said...

I Knew Bernie Madoff Was Cheating; That's Why I Invested with Him

Posted Dec 12, 2008 12:45pm EST by From ClusterStock.com, Dec. 12, 2008:

Specifically, we're hearing that the smart money KNEW Bernie had to be cheating, because the returns he was generating were impossibly good. Many Wall Streeters suspected the wrong rigged game, though: They thought it was insider trading, not a Ponzi scheme. And here's the best part: That's why they invested with him.

For years and years I've heard people say that [Bernie's] investment performance was too good to be true. The returns were too steady -- like GE earnings under Welch -- and too high given the supposed strategy.

One Madoff investor, himself a legend, told me that Madoff's performance "just doesn't make sense. The numbers can't be straight." Another sophisticated Madoff investor actually went through trade confirms in order to reverse-engineer the strategy and said, "it doesn't add up."

So why did these smart and skeptical investors keep investing? They, like many Madoff investors, assumed Madoff was somehow illegally trading on information from his market-making business for their benefit. They didn't consider the possibility that he was clean on that score but running a good old-fashioned Ponzi scheme.

And another from Whitney Tilson:

One friend who saw this coming said Madoff had his own broker-dealer and a relative as his finance guy; another friend said he was suspicious because of the 1-2%/month returns with never a down month (much less quarter or year), combined with never showing a a down month (much less quarter or year), combined with never showing anyone his portfolio. 99% of the time, if it sounds too good to be true, IT IS!

Anonymous said...

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe said President-elect Barack Obama erred by not putting out the key points on his campaign's dealings with Gov. Rod Blagojevich immediately, and making the story last distract his transition longer than it would have otherwise.

Politico.com captures the main thrust of Rendell's comments:

Now, he said, the story will continue to dominate the media's attention.

"They have never been in an executive position before," Rendell said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "The rule of thumb is whatever you did, say it and get it over with and make it a one-day story as opposed to a three-day story. Politicians are always misjudging the intelligence of the American people."

Known for his blunt critiques of fellow Democrats, Rendell did not hold back during the interview.

The criminal complaint essentially exonerates Obama and his staff, Rendell said, because it quotes Blagojevich as saying the president-elect would offer him nothing but appreciation for appointing Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett to the position.

"Did Rahm Emanuel who took Rod Blagojevich's seat in Congress have contact with Rod Blagojevich? Of course he did," Rendell said. "They may have thought he was the craziest S.O.B. in the world. But you still have to have contact with him."

The criminal complaint exonerates Obama and his staff because it quotes Blagojevich as saying the president-elect would offer him nothing but appreciation for appointing Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett to the position, Rendell said.

"Blagojevich curses them out," Rendell said. "It is easy [for Obama to] just say, 'Hey folks here it is, of course we had contact.'

"But they made the mistake of making it a four or five or six day story

Anonymous said...

Only in Illinois would the Agudah start circling the wagon of a dismal failure for a governor, and asking frum legislators to keep an open mind to continue to govern.

Idiot Schnell must have thought this would endear himself to the governor. Putzola, he's going down regardless what you say. He's making an idiot out of yourself as Agudah Midwest Regional president by shooting his stupid mouth off.

Shut your stupid mouths already, the investigation is just beginning many more names are yet to come. This scandal will severely impact the Chicago Jewish community. The scandal is huge, and only 25% is public already. The feds aren't leaving Chicago any time soon.

Arthur said...

From Crosscurrents

The NY Jewish Week noted a thread of criticism of media coverage of the terrorist attack on the Chabad of Mumbai, one both different and more subtle than the media’s obfuscation of the terrorists’ identity as Islamic radicals and their Jewish victims as deliberate targets (though, to be certain, it took note of that as well). What exercised the Jewish Week is that the news reports called the Chabad shluchim “ultra-Orthodox.” But lest you think that the NY Jewish Week took this as an opportunity for soul-searching, to perhaps finally discard its consistent use of a disparaging term to describe our community, prepare to be disappointed — for that impression would be sadly mistaken.

Mark Steyn, writing in the National Review and Washington Times (Dec. 6), noted that “ultra” was used “in almost all the western media … less a term of theological precision than a generalized code for ‘strange, weird people, nothing against them personally, but.” And Steyn adds, were these ultras “stranger or weirder than their killers?”

Mark Steyn, in this passage quoted in the NYJW, gets it exactly right. Frequent readers will note that many of us at Cross-Currents have protested the “ultra” label for exactly this reason. Steyn is not at all Orthodox himself; he just knows an offensive smear when he sees one. He correctly outlines the offensive bias inherent in the “ultra” label and calls it unfair, thus implying that it should be jettisoned from civilized discourse — and not a moment too soon.

The NYJW takes what Steyn said, twists it around, and comes out with a message that is both wrong and offensive. Associate Editor Jonathan Mark contributes no special insight to make sure Mark Steyn’s message hits home. On the contrary, to Mark there is nothing wrong with retaining the “ultra-” term in the NYJW lexicon. According to the Mark, the problem is not that the bigoted term is universally offensive and to be discarded — rather, it is that Chabad Chassidim aren’t “ultras.” He attempts to take Chabad out of the world of charedi Judaism, something which neither Lubavitchers nor anyone else should find acceptable.

‘Clothes make the man,” said Mark Twain. “Naked people have little to no influence on society.” But when it comes to the media, there’s little other than clothes that can justify calling Chabad “ultra-Orthodox,” and even at that, they dress in ways that would fit in at Yeshiva University.

Chabad, one could argue, are really “Modern Orthodox,” having pioneered the use of the Internet in the Orthodox community; giving equal status to women, alongside men, as the rebbe’s emissaries; being tolerant and inclusive, offering their services to secular and non-Orthodox Jews; and supporting Israeli troops.

First of all, Steyn was not referring to Rav Gavriel & Rivka Holzberg, Hy”d, but to all those murdered at the Chabad House, including Rav Leibish Teitelbaum Hy”d, son of the Av Beis Din of Volov in Boro Park. Volover Chassidim dress and act in a more stereotypically Chassidische fashion than do Lubavitchers, yet Steyn’s appalled disbelief at the “ultra-Orthodox” label applied equally to him. [I do not know the affiliations, dress or practices of the other victims.]

Furthermore, Mark’s depiction of Chabad Chassidim as “Modern” is ludicrous. Regardless of the philosophical differences between the Rebbe and his adherents on the one hand, and the yeshivishe Gedolei Torah and their adherents on the other, Chabad chassidim conduct their daily lives as charedi Jews. If they would fit in at YU, it is because today the Bais Medrash and Kollel Elyon of RIETS are filled with young men who look like typical charedi yeshiva students.

Cross-Currents was created by two Orthodox pioneers in use of the Internet, has benefited from the work of female writers since its inception, offers its services to anyone who cares to read it, and backs Israel and its soldiers. This is not because Cross-Currents is a “Modern Orthodox” publication. It’s because the Orthodox community overall (and specifically the charedi wing) was far ahead of the curve in using the Internet for Jewish outreach, offers women far more opportunities for Jewish communal leadership per capita than any other Jewish group, and is also far more likely to evaluate a candidate’s stance on Israel before voting. If the NYJW were to apply its standard in a logical and consistent fashion, it would categorize everyone outside Kiryas Joel and Williamsburg as “modern.”

If the NY Times mysteriously and offensively failed to understand that Jews were targeted in Mumbai, the NYJW’s Jonathan Mark mysteriously and offensively misconstrues Mark Steyn’s point about the bigoted term that the NYJW, like the rest of the Jewish and Western media, continues to use. Neither should be given a free pass for this failure.