Jewish leaders reflect on Bernie Madoff

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   When I began this blog, I promised I’d do original reporting rather than simply refer to other web sites. BUT the email I got this morning from Moment magazine, which reflects Jewish opinion, was too tempting to pass up. In this issue, several Jewish leaders of varying disciplines assess the morality of Bernie Madoff, the Jewish financier who made off with some $50 billion of investors’ - many of them Jews - money.

   According to this piece, these Jewish leaders definitely condemn the man, but say his actions do not reflect on American Judaism as a whole. Rabbi Julie Schonfeld makes a particularly interesting comment: that what was so offensive about the Madoff schemes is that the financier used Jewish community networks to build his empire.

   “Greed and deceit are not Jewish issues,” says Jonathan Cohen of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnatti, adding it’s unfair to let the actions of one wrongdoer reflect on other Jews. What I found missing in this collection of about a dozen opinions was any sentiment that what Madoff did is something other Jewish financiers are fully capable of doing. Is there something in Madoff’s faith - or lack thereof - that didn’t put the reins on his behavior? That’s the question I was looking to be answered.

  Well Mr. Madoff, who engineered one of the largest investment scams in U.S. history, is back in the news today with his guilty plea and possible life-long prison sentence. Here is a Moment sidebar on the financier. The interviewee asks why Madoff’s religion has been brought up in this whole mess whereas that of other scandal-plagued politicians has not. Simple answer: Cecause Madoff went after mainly Jews. Folks like disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich didn’t go after his fellow Serbo-Croatians.

- Julia Duin, religion editor

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About the Author
Julia Duin

Julia Duin

Julia Duin is the Times' religion editor. She has a master's degree in religion from Trinity School for Ministry (an Episcopal seminary) and has covered the beat for three decades. Before coming to The Washington Times, she worked for five newspapers, including a stint as a religion writer for the Houston Chronicle and a year as city editor at the ...

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