The Ponzi Scheme involving Bernie Madoff stealing some $50 Billion is kind of a big deal. I wouldn’t even know what to do with that much money. I actually asked friend last night if she thought she could spend $50 Billion and she said, “Just try me.”
But what has been of more interest for me is how this whole scandal looks for the Jews. I mean, Madoff fits a lot of old Jewish stereotypes. He is an involved Jew who ran Wall St. and stole everyone’s money (and for everyone who took issue with me stereotyping Jews playing basketball, I’m assuming Madoff was also pretty unathletic).
But does that mean that by consequence, all Jews are seen that way? People have argued to me that they that are worried that the Madoff scandal will lead to hightened stereotypes involving Jews and money.
But I disagree. Look at who invested in Madoff: Yeshiva University, Hadassah, Elie Weisel, Steven Speilberg, etc. These are people and groups who are doing good work in the world community and Madoff exploited them. This Madoff scandal may destroy some Jewish organizations, but it also highlights the work that these organizations were doing.
I saw a clip on CNN the other night highlighting some of these great organizations that no longer have enough money to function. Yes, you have your obvious Jewish organizations like Hadassah, that will survive but will be severely hit, but there are less obvious groups, like an organization that represents Guantanamo Bay detainees, that are now bankrupt.
While this scandal is having terrible affects on the Jewish non-profit world, I don’t think we need to worry about a rise in anti-Semitism. If anything, this could be one of the few positives that come out of this mess.