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California Foundation Forced to Close

A California-based foundation that doles out about $12 million per year was forced to close as a result of the securities scheme orchestrated by Bernard Madoff, JTA has learned.

The Chais Family Foundation, which gives away approximately $12.5 million annually to Jewish causes in Israel, the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, closed Sunday because all of its assets were invested with Madoff. The United Jewish Communities and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee were among its main beneficiaries.

Madoff, the founder of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, was arrested Dec. 11 after admitting that his $50 billion hedge fund was a fraudulent scheme.

“I can confirm that the Chais foundation has closed,” its president, Avraham Infeld, told JTA via cell phone Sunday. “All of its funds were exposed with Mr. Madoff. We have made a decision regrettably and with much pain to close down the foundation.”

On Dec. 12, the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation based in Salem, Mass., shut its doors after saying it had lost all its money — $8 million — by investing with Madoff.

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