Commentary Magazine: Jonathan Tobin Turns Down Bernard Madoff's Munificent Gift

Yes, you read that correctly. Jonathan Tobin has turned down Bernard Madoff's gift.

Now realize we are not talking exactly about a direct gift.

The Madoff scandal itself is a potentially enormous indirect gift to Jewish journalism. It's a Jewish scandal involving a Jewish principal, Jewish family victims, Jewish institutional victims, claims of antisemitism, Jewish country clubs, Jewish interlocking networks, we could go on and on.

On our modest little blog we call the Madoff scandal, the theft that keeps on giving because it provides us with a never-ending source of meaty content.

But we are not professional Jewish journalists here at Tzvee's Talmudic Blog.

Jonathan Tobin is a professional in the field. So is Gary Rosenblatt and so are many other Jewish editors and writers all around the country.

Yet what do you think? Amazing as it may seem, these Jewish pundits have not risen to the occasion and taken ownership of the story of the Madoff affair.

There it was - a munificent gift left on the doorstep of the Jewish journals. And they just stepped right over it and had the postman return it to sender.

At our blog, we've gotten very little new information about the scandal from JTA or the Jewish Week. We get our meaty news from the general journalists of such sources as the Times of London and Bloomberg.

I'm not here to castigate or investigate or ruminate about the state of Jewish journalism. I just observe.

The latest to return the gift of Madoff to its sender is the esteemed new editor of Commentary who rehashes and heats up old news and then meekly speculates about, and yes this is the exact title, "The Madoff Scandal and the Future of American Jewry." The lengthy but pointless essay concludes:
The pain caused by Bernard Madoff will be lasting and felt by a great many people. There can be little doubt that the method by which he used his Jewish identity to worm his way into the confidence of many Jewish investors and charities will be among the most memorable aspects of his villainy. But those concerned about the future of American Jewry have far more pressing worries than the money Madoff stole and lost or the ammunition he might have given to anti-Semites. The real question is whether, at a time when resources are growing relatively scarce, the American Jewish community will finally take the full measure of the threat to its long-term survival and husband its straitened resources to address that threat openly, honestly, and effectively.
Ya-know, I suffer from LFT - low futurism tolerance. Just to be clear why, every issue under the sun loses its immediacy when thrust into the long view of history. And every creature under the sun plans for its survival.

People who work for a living are always in touch with the need to "take the full measure" of "survival." Everyone mature and thoughtful plans for today, tomorrow and next year and changes and adapts their plans to shifting circumstances as needed to make the most that they can out of their lives and to insure for the well-being of their offspring. And all of those thoughtful individuals form a collective which engages in the same productive activities.

I just don't get it when people set up a "Center for the Jewish Future" as Richard Joel did at Yeshiva University. I don't get it when someone puts the Madoff affair under the lens of the "future of American Jewry."

These generic expositions about our future are mainly meaningless and contentless categories of non-thought and armchair-analysis. And sometimes they are the diabolical proclamations of reactionaries.
[HT to Henry, thanks.]

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