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Yad Sarah lost $1.5 million in Madoff scandal

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Yad Sarah, an Israeli volunteer organization that provides services for the disabled and needy, has apparently lost significant funds in the Bernard Madoff fraud scandal, JTA has learned.

According to the organization’s latest 990 tax filing, the organization’s American fundraising outfit, American Friends of Yad Sarah, had $1.5 million invested with J. Ezra Merkin’s Ascot Partners in 2006.

Ascot lost all of its assets in the Madoff scandal, Merkin told his associates last week.

Yad Sarah was still checking into the matter as of Tuesday morning, but believes that the money was used to support a Yad Sarah foundation that supported respiratory care.

“In 2006, we started a foundation for respiratory equipment and that was invested with Ezra Merkin,” the organization’s spokesman David Rothner told JTA. “What happened to the foundation, that I wasn’t able to find out.”

Rothner said that like all other Israeli nonprofits that rely on American fund raising, Yad Sarah was already facing a difficult year.

 “We assume we will be affected more or less like any other organization. When it rains everyone gets wet,” he said. “Even before this fraud was found out we anticipated that the donations through 2009 will decrease. To say that a specific federation will donate less money to anyone in Israel was specifically because of this specific fraud.”

Yad Sarah’s budget is around $20 million annually, Rothner said.
 

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