Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Betrayed by Madoff, Yeshiva U. Adds a Lesson

I've started to think about planning my courses for next semester. One of them is an introductory course on Judaism, and I usually include a segment on Jewish ethics. Perhaps this time we should discuss business ethics according to Jewish teachings. Tomorrow's New York Times has an interesting article on the soul-searching going on at Yeshiva University in the wake of the Madoff scandal - Betrayed by Madoff, Yeshiva U. Adds a Lesson.

In Rabbi Benjamin Blech’s philosophy of Jewish law course, students pondered whether Jewish values had been distorted to reward material success.“This overrides everything else,” said Rabbi Blech, who has taught at Yeshiva for 42 years. “It is an opportunity to convey to students that ritual alone is not the sole determinant of our Judaism, that it must be combined with humanity, with ethical behavior, with proper values, and most important of all, with regard to our relationship with other human beings.”....

Rabbi Blech... said he, too, worried that community expectations had steered students away from public-service professions like teaching and toward more lucrative jobs.“In elevating to a level of demiworship people with big bucks, we have been destroying the values of our future generation,” he said. “We need a total rethinking of who the heroes are, who the role models are, who we should be honoring.”....

Rabbi Blech, for his part, turned to the Ten Commandments, noting that some focus on a person’s relationship with God, others on relationships with fellow human beings. He said that “both tablets are equally important.”

“Just because you eat kosher and observe the Sabbath does not make you good,” he explained. “If you cheat and steal, you cannot claim you are a good Jew.”


  1. Wow, I didn't even know about this! but then again, when was the last time I picked up a newspaper.

  2. To: Madoff Non-profit Foundation or School Victims


    Dear Madoff Victim,

    Since your organization has already been diminished, financially, we are all aware that your organization is now one of many which face potential financial extinction if not immediately helped. This should help establish in your minds that our motives can only be benevolent or, at worst, harmless, since little else bad seems likely to happen right away.

    That said, we have a proposal that involves donating money to your organization from what would otherwise been our compensation for Intellectual Property fees from a National Ecological Fertilizer Project, which we have submitted to members of the House and Senate for inclusion in the huge economic stimulus package being contemplated by the incoming Obama Administration.

    We will be happy to share the details of the proposal with you, upon request. However, we believe that you will be more interested in what we propose for your organization and how we plan to accomplish this, so we will limit our remarks in this communication to (1) what we offer your group and (2) what you need to do to help us get this to you.

    You need to know that we do NOT contemplate attempts at rescuing banks or hedge funds, or even individuals, per se, since there will not be enough money generated by this project to accomplish this.

    If we get what we wish passed and signed into law in January of 2009, then we will have a pool of at least $7.3 Billion U.S. Dollars, which we propose shall be first deposited with a Federal Court-appointed trustee. Next, assuming $7.3 Billion is sufficient to fully refund losses documented by the Federal Prosecutors in the Madoff scandal, we propose that ALL claims from foundations, schools, universities and non-profit entities shall be paid, first principal invested with Madoff, and, thereafter, interest accrued by those accounts (to the extent possible) as of any statements as of November 2008, as certified by the federal Court overseeing recovery of assets in the Madoff case.

    Since there will not be enough money to help the entire lot of Madoff victims, we must decline to consider banks, hedge (or other) funds, or even individuals who may have invested privately with Mr. Madoff. To be most effective, our focus is to restore the charitable organizations victimized.

    It may or may not seem like an obvious thing to add, here, but we will NOT be reimbursing the Madoff Family Foundation for any losses. We may, however, offer to take over that entity or replace it and carry on any historical philanthropic giving that does not include members of the Madoff family or others implicated in perpetuating the scandal.

    If, after reimbursement of those targets organizations, mentioned above, we have any funds remaining, then we plan to invest them in alternative energy projects as we had originally planned. If any organization which we help in this activity wishes to assist us in reinvestment in projects designed to help the American economy move forward, then we would welcome the creation of some form of mutual activity which both protects the investments of the targeted charities and allows us to advance the U.S. economy as we originally planned.

    The above, however, is only an idea and not part of what we want or expect from your organization.


    We need to know you will help us get the measure passed into law so that we may distribute the funds to you, as promised. It’s pretty simple, if there is no bill passed then we cannot help you, no matter how much we may both want or need for this to happen.

    You will need to work with us to get the court to establish a trustee for the funds (that should not be difficult).

    You will need to call-in every political favor owed to you and call every lawmaker you can think of to help them understand what is at stake here. Otherwise, the measure will never pass.
    There are a small number of items which only a President and a very small group of Governors can help us with and, if you can help with that part, then it would make things much easier.

    You should know that the part of our proposal which generates the money for your organization is called The National Ecological Fertilizer Project. This project will cost taxpayers about $59.1 Billion dollars, of which (depending on taxes) about $8.3 Billion is calculated to be paid as Intellectual Property fees. It is from this $8.3 Billion dollars that the proposed $7.3 Billion for the Madoff victim rescue is contemplated to come.

    The proposal will create a minimum of 787,725 permanent new jobs in every locality of the United States, which become fully self-financing after 12 months of Federal funding under our proposal.

    We have read the long list of foundations, schools, and other worthy organizations, doing good works all over the world, that stand to die, financially, if we do not help. We do NOT need $8.3 Billion dollars to live well. In any event, life and living would taste so much better knowing that we turned something terrible into something glorious.

    We hope that you will see fit to help us and that you will take the next step by asking us for the proposal details and getting together with your Senator or Congressperson, thereafter so we can finish this not later than January 21, 2009.

    The new Congress convenes January 06, 2009 and the new President takes office on January 20, 2009. We have until only then to accomplish what I have proposed, or we lose our chance, probably forever.

    My God Bless and Keep You in the New Year.


    Thomas and Elena Ketchum

    SC Thopy 7 SRL

    Strada Dr. Ion Nanu Muscel, Nr. 13, Ap. 3
    Etaj 1, Sector 5 (Cotroceni)
    Bucharest, Romania
    Postal Code: 050521


    Phone from United States: 011-40-73-100-3792

  3. Huh? Why are these people living in Romania? Shouldn't they have a Nigerian address?

  4. Yes, I think so. I got a message like this to my Gmail account also. Ecological fertilizer.... could this be a statement on the worth of their "project"?

  5. Elie Wiesel was born in Romania. Did that make him a scammer? Listen, Amos, Rebecca, and anyone else with questions. I was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1957 and I met my wife here in Romania in 2006 while I was patiently waiting for our fascist President DumbAss to leave office. While I was here in Romania, I found that they had something that would benefit the world (not just the United States). In any case my offer costs you nothing but time and attention. We take into account that people need security. This is why we propose a Federal Court Trustee to handle any funds from Congress. If you don't want to try to get these projects funded then fine, but I ask you to at least get more information before you sit there and slander us. We are simply trying to help. That is all.

  6. Thomas, perhaps you should try marketing your product in a more conventional manner, rather than spamming comments on people's blogs.

    Please do not post any more to my comments - I will delete any comments from you from now on.