We make none of this kvetching up. These below are on the record comments for publication on an international news media site -- the actual conclusion to a story ripped from the Bloomberg web site.
“No anti-Semite ever did this much damage to the American Jewish community,” said Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, in an interview.
“My mother would have called this a ‘klole,’ which means a curse, that Madoff is a curse on the Jews,” said Peretz, the roundtable organizer and a director at Yivo.
In Ponzi schemes, some investors are paid with others’ money to give the appearance of profits. While Madoff is both Jewish and accused of running such a fraud, the schemes aren’t uniquely Jewish, Ellenson said in an interview. The focus on Madoff’s religion nettles Adrienne Asch, director of the Center for Ethics at Yeshiva University.
“I find the question, ‘How does this affect the Jews?’ a very offensive question,” Asch said in an interview. In explanation, she turned to Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” and its Jewish lender who demanded a pound of flesh from a borrower.
“Shylock’s speech is right: ‘If you prick us, do we not bleed?’” Asch said. “People are people and there are evil ones and good ones in every group.”
Jews have been taught for centuries that stealing money is no trivial matter, said Richard Kalmin, a professor of rabbinic literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary, an affiliate of Columbia. In an interview, he noted a passage from the Talmud, the collected writings on Jewish law:
“He who steals from his fellow even the smallest coin, it is as if he takes from him his life.”
Accused of taking far more than the smallest coin, Madoff aroused more than the smallest anger, said Howard Sirota, a New York securities lawyer who had clashed with Madoff.
In 1994, Sirota defended a broker-dealer in a National Association of Securities Dealers disciplinary proceeding led by Madoff, who interrupted him repeatedly, according to the lawyer. When Sirota alluded to the Holocaust to make a point, saying his client shouldn’t “be marched naked in the snow to the ovens,” Madoff accused Sirota of making light of Hitler’s genocide, the lawyer said.
“This sanctimonious hypocrite who lectured me about trivializing the Holocaust cheated numerous Jewish charities, including small ones that can’t survive,” Sirota said in an interview. “I’d love to put a hatchet in Bernie Madoff’s head, and I know there are other Jews who feel that way.”