12/12/13

Is Bernard L. Madoff Jewish?

We memorialize the fifth anniversary of the discovery of the greatest theft in history with a rerun of one of our most popular blog posts. December 11, 2008 we posted this.

Yes, Bernard L. Madoff is a Jew.

Bernard Madoff was arrested and charged today with allegedly running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, according to U.S. authorities.

According to Yeshiva University, "Bernard L. Madoff, a member of the University’s Board of Trustees since 1996, was elected chairman of the Board of Directors of Sy Syms School of Business in 2000. Mr. Madoff is chairman of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, one of the nation’s largest third-market dealers in New York Stock Exchange and over-the-counter securities. A Benefactor of the University, Mr. Madoff recently made a major gift to the Sy Syms School."

Forbes reports this 'UNFORTUNATE SET OF EVENTS':
"Bernard Madoff is a longstanding leader in the financial services industry," his lawyer Dan Horwitz told reporters outside a downtown Manhattan courtroom where he was charged. "We will fight to get through this unfortunate set of events."

A shaken Madoff stared at the ground as reporters peppered him with questions. He was released after posting a $10 million bond secured by his Manhattan apartment.

The SEC filed separate civil charges.

"Our complaint alleges a stunning fraud -- both in terms of scope and duration," said Scott Friestad, the SEC's deputy enforcer. "We are moving quickly and decisively to stop the scheme and protect the remaining assets for investors."

The SEC said it appeared that virtually all of the assets of his hedge fund business were missing.

Madoff had long kept the financial statements for his hedge fund business under "lock and key," according to prosecutors, and was "cryptic" about the firm.

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great. Bring on the anti-semitism.

Anonymous said...

He recently made a major gift to a school with money he made illegally. How nice.

Constantine Christoff said...

Now it will start again! These Jews, the are robbing us all etc. And it goes down to the man no matter what tribe he is coming from. Berni just built a nice financial pyramid. We have a long history with Egypt after all :-)

Anonymous said...

From the Godfather:

Your father did business with Hyman Roth, you father made money with Hyman Roth.

But your father never TRUSTED Hyman Roth

Anonymous said...

Great another fraud & one that was in charge of NASDAQ

Anonymous said...

Madoff is an embarassment to our community. How does one get so greedy? It reinforces all the stereotypes about Jews. Very sad indeed.

Anonymous said...

This guy should spend time with another disgrace to his race, Lou Pearlman, who is serving a 25-year sentence for the same thing.

Anonymous said...

How is it that so many YU directors are convicted of fraud? Is YU just looking the other way when shady business people make large gifts? Do they stop taking the money when someone is indicted or convicted? Making brachot over stolen luvlavim indeed.
This is why we need organizations like Uri L'Tzedek.

magdelyn said...

Why is Mr. Madoff's religion/race important here?

Anonymous said...

This is sickening!! Just what we need ,a Yu trustee that scams $50 billion dollars. wHAT CHUTZPAH. How many people lost there life savings to this jerk. Not much more you can say.

Hasibul Haque said...

It does not really matter if Madoff is jewish or not. He is a crook.Period.

Anonymous said...

With regards to the Yeshiva University board, what did they know and when did they know it? I hope *someone* in the government is investigating this rather than just brushing it aside.

YMedad said...

so, how may Torah institutions go down with him?

Anonymous said...

And we wonder why there is a rise in anti-semitism? We need to create a new Jewish group to fight those who give us a bad name...and there's a lot of 'em these days!

Anonymous said...

Our family has been invested with Madoff since 1995. Philanthropic giants Carl & Ruth Shapiro have been with Madoff since 1960 giving us smaller investors the comfort level to put all of our money in this so called "safe fund". Madoff's history of an unblemished record of value, fair-dealing, and high ethical standards has always given us the comfort factor to invest all of our money with his firm. Where most people look to T bills for safety we were all brainwashed that Madoff was the place to put your money that you did not want to put at risk. We have now possibly lost everything that I have worked my entire life for. It's just not right how devasting this is going to be for so many families.

Anonymous said...

oy

tzvee said...

I had to moderate out many racist comments to this post. Please understand that no Jew condones his criminal acts. It is improper to tar other Jews because of Madoff. Kindly refrain from doing that here or anywhere else.

Hasibul Haque said...

@Anonymous
indeed it gives opportunity to many bigots to propagate certain stereotypes based on the action of one individual.
The silver lining in this is the fact that Madoff's own sons turned him in to the authorities. They of course did the right thing even though I assume it must have been very painful for them.

Anonymous said...

well, jewish liberals have no problem tarring conservatives, Christians, etc.

you seriously going to deny this or claim you speak out against such tarring when it happens by fellow jews or liberals?

are you a hypocrite or think jews are so special that they get an exception other groups don't?

Anonymous said...

Madoff has financed our settlement in Judea very generously. He used the money for worthwhile causes such as Eretz Israel.
We cannot believe this. We will pray for him, he is a great friend of Israel.
Even if he cheated, he did it for the right cause.
Shalom
David

Anonymous said...

Does anyone really believe that Madoff's sons knew absolutely nothing about a fraud this massive? Doubtful. Madoff is simply falling on his own sword to protect his children.

Anonymous said...

Bernard Madoff is not a jew. He is not a moral man ,He ignored his obligation to his fellow man. He is a domestic terrorist with as much morality as Al Qaida.

Anonymous said...

So where is the outrage and condemnation of Bernard L. Madoff by the Jewish Community? Where are the letters to the NYT editor from prominent rabbis?

I'll tell you: no where--the same as condemnation of the Mafia from the Sicilian-American community, or of the IRA by the Irish-American community. Blood is thicker than ethics--or at least ethnic identity politics is.

The Jewish community will close ranks, express tepid regret, and quietly scratch out Mr. Madoff's name on all the brass plaques and donors lists--like it always does. It did not condemn Myer Lansky, and it won't condemn Bernie Maldoff. (And Maldoff is much *worse*: if you'd had Lansky managing your money, you'd have done well.) :-)

When any group--but especially a religious one--defines itself by ethnicity, everything else becomes secondary. And that is what's truly racist, IMHO.

Also, did not the son who turned in his father break a Commandment? My impression is that most Orthodox Jews would regard what the son did (turning his father in to the secular police) as worse than what the father did. Beliefs like that are terribly unhelpful to society, yet they are tolerated and not condemned by the larger Jewish community.

Also, the son must have known or suspected for years, but he waited until the hedge fund was about to collapse to report it. One wonders if he did he do just it to save his own skin. There are no heroes in this story except the FBI.

Frankly, give me an honest man, even if he worships a golden calf--or worships nothing at all. I've had it with "religious" people who ethics consist of "Hurray for our tribe!" and who lie, cheat and steal--then give a tiny fraction of their ill-gotten gains to ethinic or religious charities so the community will continue to harbor them. But tribalism seems to be built into the human animal, alas.

Anonymous said...

This tale focuses on a common investment pitfall. I call it stealing. It was a normal scam since it appealed to the victim’s common sense and trust. Read "A Thief's Tale" at http://www.financialtales.com

Anonymous said...

Jewish community should not feel any "embarrassment" for the acts of an individual who committed a crime. We are responsible for our own individual acts. I strongly believe in this principal and policy. We can share the pain and suffering of a community, but not the criminal acts of individual.

PeaceMessage said...

amen! to the 7:08 am comment.

Anonymous said...

Madoff is no reflection of the Jewish community, so why should this reflect on anybody except for himself? I am not Jewish, but can say that this guy is a criminal, a successful, charming criminal, and says nothing about anybody else who happens to be Jewish.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone realize how indescribably dangerous this is. This could set off terrible anti-semitic rampages all over the bloody world. In the press, programs, who knows what this is going to ignite. I take off my hat to Madoff's sons' for reporting him to the authorities it must have been the most difficult thing they could have done and will have lasting effects on them emotionally for many years to come. I commend you.

oswaldo said...

Whether we like it or not, the fact that Bernie Madoff is jewish did play a very significant role in role in the scam.

I can not imagine otherwise why so many wealthy jewish individuals, jewish institutional investors and hedge fund managers invested with him.

In this occasion, the automatic solidarity and implicit trust amongst jews when it comes to where to put their money backfired big time

Akhtar Ali said...

Lets refrain from bashing Jewish community, Most Jewish people are nice folks . I happen to have many Jewish friends who condemned Bernard Madoff as much you and I do. Last few years this world had enough, Greed and egos of few ( Madoff , Osama , Saddam , Bush and his cronies ) brought this world to its knees .

Anonymous said...

was madoff's motivation strictly greed? I get the sense that he is a person who desires to be adored as much as he desires to be super rich. from reading articles about him, it sounds like he was looked at like a guru, almost godly and he probably loved it.

Anonymous said...

Being Jewish does not make you immune from being a crook or a schmuck.

Anonymous said...

Madoff sons turned him in so they are innocent!!!
As if anyone would believe that!
Just because the Jews in the US own all the major networks and minimise the impact of any negative news for the Jews, it shouldn't give them the right to run amok. The embezzlement of this man affects not only the Americans but even the pensioners in the UK.
People around the world have had enough of American self-centeredness already & increasingly everything including the Iraq war is being blamed on American Jews.

Anonymous said...

It is true, I know alot of nice jewish people. And one person should not be held accountable.

However the CEO of Lehman Brothers was also jewish and so many of our political leaders and CEO's are.

I want to have faith that Neoptism and honesty will remian. But its hard after such news.

The fact that he screwed over many of his own charities just speaks more to me about the man. How can you screw over your own kind, I am not jewish btw.

That doesnt seem right. This has to be about his personal greed.

However someone did say that in the last 6 months he allowed people in and told certain people to get out. I wonder who they were.

Anonymous said...

the problem that i see now is that because of the current financial crisis where most of the players are jewish, bernake, geitner, rubin, paulson and now madoff, your typical non jewish, non antisemitic american is now noticing the the dominant jewish influence in our economy. it doesn't bode well for jews if there is any type of social breakdown and civil unrest. i dont know what the solution is.

Anonymous said...

As a Jew, I am ashamed about the Madoff scandal. It casts such an ugly shadow on the rest of us who are good citizens and abide by the Laws. I thank those non-Jews who have expressed their understanding in their comments about understanding that Madoff does NOT represent the Jewish community and its beliefs. I also would strongly support the Rabbinical community condemning his acts more publicly.

Anonymous said...

Famous modern day Jewsish white collar criminals are Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, and Martin Siegle. Now Bernard Madoff will join this dsitinquished group.

As a gentile, I think most of the Jews that I personally come accross are ethical and generous; however, a number of Jews nowadays are living secular lives without moral compass.

All have sin and come short of the glory of God. Thou shall not steal. The love of money is the root of all evil. As long as we are in the flesh, we will be tested to do good.

Anonymous said...

I must also commend 7:08's comments. The tribal mind and group think working together brought this to the crisis that it is. While its regrettable, it seems we're all in a for a slap in the face these days -rich or poor. Usually it's just the poor and middle class getting their teeth kicked in. Now everyone's getting a smack. That's unprecedented, and I hate to say, long overdue. Welcome to the world that the rest of us know so well. Get cozy, the upside is far, far away.

Anonymous said...

It is quite regretful that this will cause a giant stain on the reputation of Jews, in which this event, which will cause quite a financial disruption to a great group of people of various races and ethnicity, as a group, as it will give the impression that Jews work and invest solely in solidarity.

It is without a doubt that most of the investors, both individual and institutional, were Jewish. This will give the appearance of a private giant investment pool controlled by Jews, which bordered on the racist trend to have a closed group control the masses.

It is not correct to blame Jews for this financial calamity, but Jews must become concerned that the impressions given to the world, of controlling all arms of the financial world, can be quite destructive and counterproductive as a whole.

I am hopeful that the Jewish community will take the time to thoroughly examine the many other closed or very tightly knit Jewish groups, clubs or associations, in order to insure that transparency and openness is displayed as a whole, in order to prevent anti-Jewish sentiments to increase worldwide or locally.

Anonymous said...

In reply to post-

So where is the outrage and condemnation of Bernard L. Madoff by the Jewish Community? Where are the letters to the NYT editor from prominent rabbis?

Response

Where are the same letters from prominent Christians and the Pope for all the Christians involved in the current credit crunch? what about any Muslims,any Hindus,any Budists

Pathetic argument with racist overtones - I revert to Hasibul Haque sensible short response.

Andrew in England

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is all very sad.
From reports, it does seem as though he sons may have been aware of this for some time. What about the regulators. Unfortunately, like it or not, Jews and money have been synonomous for centuries.

Whatever one's religious or ethnic background, crime is crime is crime. People should be careful about "blind faith", just because someone if of their persuasion. Perhaps it is time to open minds and wallets to money manager who have nothing in common with ethnic or religious roots.

All investors should be mindful, and as we know, no risk, no reward. However, this is sad situation. As far as other comment regarding 7:08 comment, yes give us an honest man or women whether they worship golden calves or trees.

Annelle said...

Jewish, not, whatever. The problem is the human problem of greed, lies, and more lies.
A con man HAS to be charming. Would you trust a con who showed you what kind of creep he really was??? They are all just adorable.
That is why juries get it wrong and prosecutors give up before the first indictment. No one wants to send that sweet old (insert label here) to JAIL.
I am just rotten enough, myself, to bet he has $ and plans to hit the road and find a new home in a new zip code outside the US. Can you say, "flight risk"? Can you steal billions and end up with Zero?

Anonymous said...

I've found a Jew's accusations of racism to be among the most laughable things, as everyone (inclduing the Jews themselves) knows that the Jewish are of the very most racist type. Period.

In the eyes of a foreigner like me, this further reinforces the view that the American finance is dominated by Jews and the American capitalism will be eventually destroyed by them. Too sad.

Zoe said...

God bless all the victims of this man.

To all the people worried about the anti-semitic remarks... there will always be hateful people looking for reasons to hate. Now is the time (more than ever) to separate your faith from the vagaries and machinations of man.


- A Christian

Anonymous said...

Antisemitism is not an issue when a Jewish person rips off other Jews. Non-Jews cannot blame anybody for what did not happen to them.

Anonymous said...

Here is the stunning part to me on the fact that nearly all of the named individual investors who have been scammed happen to be Jewish: When the Carl Shapiro's and Fred Wilpon's of the the world gave this Madoff character their imprimatur, why didn't they suggest or push for any of their irish friends, or italian friends, or black friends, etc to join this elite money making circle. Were they worried about share devaluation from additional non Jewish investors? Is it because Fred Wilpon doesn't know any irishmen who would like a near guaranteed 12% a year return? Is it because no italian surnamed man would want such a thing? Is it because only a jewish person could be dumb enough to be snookered? Or is it because only a black person is smart enough to avoid such dishonest characters?

This smugness, keeping all the seeming good ideas in the jewish house, is unfortunate.

asleeper said...

How sad for everyone who trusted B. Madoff, especially the least wealthy, who could not afford to lose what they invested.

To "Andrew in England". You don't read much, apparently. Americans are not restrained in their criticism of wealthy Christians guilty of financial crimes.

As a Christian who is not wealthy, I can say from experience talking with my equally non-wealthy Jewish friends that they find B. Madoff to be a disgusting character whose character is not redeemed in any way by virtue of his Jewishness.

If anyone has anything good to say about him, they say it because they benefited in some way from his largesse, or it is a class thing. That is, some in the very wealthy class prefer not to denounce him too strenuously, lest they draw too much attention to themselves. Rather, they make polite talk, such as "Who could tell? He always seemed so trustworthy."

But, the truth is, and this goes for people of all backgrounds, how nice can people be who devote their entire lives to the acquisition of wealth and power, who worship money, and are not satisfied until they have 100, 1,000, or 1,000,000 times as much as others? Common people would be wise to always be suspicious of such people.

asleeper said...

How sad for everyone who trusted B. Madoff, especially the least wealthy, who could not afford to lose what they invested.

To "Andrew in England". You don't read much, apparently. Americans are not restrained in their criticism of wealthy Christians guilty of financial crimes.

As a Christian who is not wealthy, I can say from experience talking with my equally non-wealthy Jewish friends that they find B. Madoff to be a disgusting character whose character is not redeemed in any way by virtue of his Jewishness.

If anyone has anything good to say about him, they say it because they benefited in some way from his largesse, or it is a class thing. That is, some in the very wealthy class prefer not to denounce him too strenuously, lest they draw too much attention to themselves. Rather, they make polite talk, such as "Who could tell? He always seemed so trustworthy."

But, the truth is, and this goes for people of all backgrounds, how nice can people be who devote their entire lives to the acquisition of wealth and power, who worship money, and are not satisfied until they have 100, 1,000, or 1,000,000 times as much as others? Common people would be wise to always be suspicious of such people.

Anonymous said...

I am of Asian decent, and have been in the US since 1975. I have many Jewish friends that are most giving of their time and money to charity. I think all sensible people understand that there are good and bad people in all racial groups.

Bernard Moadoff's disgusting behavior fits the Shylock stereotype of a greedy money hungry Jew, which will give the anti-semites fuel in their attempt to make the Jewish community look bad as a group. This is most unfortunate.

Being a student of history, successful minorty groups can quickly become scapegoated into being evil doers and blamed for all the ill of society. I hope this doesn't happen here but we should all stay vigilent in preventing hatred.

Anonymous said...

Truth in advertising: I am a Christian.

As I once explained to a friend, Jews are not organized because they are wealthy; they are wealthy because they are organized. This is a trait that has served Jews well, but in this case, the high degree of internal organization and mutual trust is what Madoff took advantage of.

Regarding YU, this is a problem with a lot of organizations: trustees are appointed because of wealth, not integrity. However, because of YU's position of an institution of Judaism-as-religion (rather than just culture or ethnicity), Madoff's appointment now seems particularly offensive.

Anonymous 12/14/2008 7:56 AM said:
Even if he cheated, he did it for the right cause. What trash. I have not read one book dealing at all with Jewish ethics (I actually have a fairly large personal Judaica library) that advocates doing evil to effect a good outcome. Is there not a Talmudic dictum that "there is no messenger in case of sin"? Does this not apply?

I will say this: the Jewish community, in the aggregate, has a bad reputation for protecting even the vilest of its own from the authorities. In a country like Iraq or Syria I can understand it, but it is inexcusable in the United States. Kudos to B. Madoff's sons who turned him in (my understanding is that they were never directly involved in his Ponzi scheme).

A question for anyone with rabbinic training: is there any cause here for Madoff's local beit din to put the smack down on him, and if so, what can it do?

Anonymous said...

@12/18/2008 11:27 PM:

Very good observation. Couldn't have said it better.

faisal siddiq said...

This man did wrong, Jewish or not, he should repent for his mistakes, i have a lot of Jewish friends that are upset to hear of this saga, however it can happen in any country, community or religion.

Anonymous said...

The lessons learned here is to be suspicious of unnaturally high investment returns for the long run. The broad stock market has returned ~6.8% over the long haul. Bernie's investments were spitting out 10%-12% returns year after year. Those who kept their money with Bernie's firm long term should have been asking questions.

The surprising thing with Bernie's ponzie scheme is how many savvy people got taken all over the world. Even more surprising is the claim that his sons or brother didn't know about it. I frankly find it hard to believe.

Don't expect the government or regulations to fix anything. The SEC was asleep at the wheel and Sarbanes Oxley hasn't stopped anything. The schemes just get better and more knarly.

The top business schools churn out smart people lacking morals. When white collar criminals get caught, they spend time at low security prisons with the perks. Bernie's loote is probably parked in multiple Swiss and Caymen number accounts.

God bless America!

deac said...

My heart goes out to the Jewish Community. Irrespective of whether they share a culpability, which they emphatically do not, I can understand their shock and embarassment. Being an Irish Catholic, I wince when reading of big city pols and drunks -many of whom also happen crooks or deviants.

I am hurt also when reading Andrew of Englands nonsense. Of all the postings, his is the least worthy. To me, it is an embarassment to my elder brothers who I love and respect. Too bad it does not go both ways.

thedeac

Anonymous said...

As a Jew, I am upset that Madoff committed such a terrible crime. However, why is it so important to point out the fact that he is Jewish? I could see if Madoff was representing a community, a religious organization, a synagogue, a Jewish foundation, etc... But no, his only association is that he was born from a Jewish mother. To be a Jew does not require free choice. To be a member of any other religion requires a choice. Madoff cannot divorce his Jewishness, he is stuck with us. We are stuck with him.

When you bring up this question of "was he Jewish?" you only fuel the antisemitic fire again.

Shame on you, being a Jew, for even bringing this up!

Gmoney said...

I found this web site because I asked myself if Madoff was Jewish. But it doesn't matter if he is Jewish or not. What matters is that we as investors need to do our homework. If it's to good to be true...then it is. And Madoff's returns were just that. In defense of Madoff (morality aside) look no further than the Social Security Administration. Charles would be proud!

Anonymous said...

I say this guy is a genius. No one has ever in the history books pulled off a ponzi scheme like this. The people who are greedy are the people who invested with him. And it don't matter if he's a jew. There are christians who commit crimes but people don't say bad shit about christians. I am not a jew but for all you who are stereotypes: FU.

Anonymous said...

Deac

Apologies if you took this the wrong way. The point I was making is that he is a crook irrespective of his religious beliefs and I would not expect an apology from the head of any crooks religious affiliation for the fraudulent acts of one of its supposed followers i.e the chief rabbi if he is jewish or the Pope if he is a catholic

Asleeper completetly misses this point in his response and for the record I am well read!

Andrew In England

Anonymous said...

I find this comment racist

Andrew in England


I've found a Jew's accusations of racism to be among the most laughable things, as everyone (inclduing the Jews themselves) knows that the Jewish are of the very most racist type. Period.

In the eyes of a foreigner like me, this further reinforces the view that the American finance is dominated by Jews and the American capitalism will be eventually destroyed by them. Too sad.

12/18/2008 10:25 AM

Zanne said...

I wondered if Madoff were Jewish because it struck me as odd that anyone of Jewish descent would be so amoral as to victimize his own people. The people I've known all my life who are Jewish are intelligent, lovely, kind, generous and helpful, though rather insular. Clearly Madoff is the exception, which makes me doubt that he has any true affiliation (other than matrilineal heritage) to Judaism. Oh, and his willingness to rip ALL people off, regardless of their religious beliefs. Still, it seemed as though a large number of Jewish organizations had trusted this jerk, and that's a sad thing, just as it is sad that any and all others put their faith in this man.

Steve said...

Were all those other Jewish people and organizations really taken by Madoff?Is it possiable that for his friends, Madoff may have just printed up and issued a large stock portfolio for free or a small fee.Not all just some. With these fake portfolioes Madoffs friends could then go to banks and borrow against those fake portfoilioes to buy other businesses, office buildings, apartmenthouses and waterfront homes for there enjoyment.They also could sell there fake stock through Madoff and get paid money from customers who rightly thought they were buying stock.

Anew said...

Right after Virginia Tech shootings, a commentator on McLaughlin Group said that "all those freaks" should be locked—or something of the sort. He meant mentally ill people. Surprisingly, he did not request that all the "normal" murderers should be locked. Connecting a criminal act of one mentally ill individual with a whole group is nothing more than labeling. Madoff's Jewishness should not be any issue whatsoever, in this discussion. The only thing that should be discussed is what he did as an individual.

Douglas Tooley said...

Today, on Madoff's conviction, I googled the subject 'Bernard Madoff Jewish Community' as part of the research on my own blog. I believe this blog was 2nd from the top (mine will not be anywhere near that.)

Anti-Semitism and Madoff is an worthwhile topic - but unfortunately so too is whether the Political Correctness of anti-semitism was actually used to prevent prosecution of this fraud - whose victims included many gentiles and Jews.

FWIW, in my opinion, condemnation of this individual should be stronger in the Jewish Community that from the real anti-semites - yes?

-Douglas Tooley

http://motleytools.com/blog