I cannot tell you how angry I am at Madoff. In my book what he did is one of the most despicable acts that any human being could do. To basically raid philanthropic organizations for his own personal gain, rob the poor to feed himself, to make a mockery of Jewish morality and values–there is not enough that can be said to condemn this man. The fact that he was a Jew and betrayed his own people, and that he used his personal connections to deceive everybody adds more bitterness to the episode.
Many organizations I know were affected by the scandal including the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and Yad Sarah. Several of them have to close doors because of what this man did. As if it wasn’t enough that these organizations were metaphorically robbed by an economic crisis that was also spurred by greed and short-term, self-interest.
The best thing the Jewish community can do now is to come together and stand for everything that this low life scorned. To give and give again to those in need and to uphold the values that make us better Jews and better people–which is what my rabbi from D.C. suggests in a sermon he is giving this Shabbat about the Madoff crisis.
I think that both the economic crisis and the Madoff case should be a wake up call to our community to see how our values have been corrupted, and how we have sacrificed ethics for success at all costs. The Gilded Age is over. It’s time to refocus our priorities.
Still, I wish there was a way for Madoff to be punished severely for what he did. What do I see as the best punishment for him? Getting him to pay back every single cent that he stole from us. With interest.