Boston Globe: Madoff is bad for the Jews, but it might not be the end of the world

The Boston Globe, which has been all over the Madoff story, has a fairly comprehensive piece on the toll that Bernard Madoff’s scam has taken on Jewish philanthropy.

As the losses continue to mount, the scene certainly is not pretty, but some philanthropy experts, including those who lost huge sums of money, are trying to keep things in perspective:

"Jews give away a minimum of $5 billion a year to Jewish causes alone, and much more than that to non-Jewish causes, so if we add up maybe a billion dollars that’s been lost, and you look at the tens of billions that are sitting in Jewish foundations and the annual operating budgets of Jewish philanthropies, this is serious, hurtful, and painful, but not devastating."

Barry Shrage, the president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, is also urging caution.

"It seems hard to believe that this could affect more than one percent of donors, or even one percent of major donors," Shrage said. "This is a massive piece of economic news, on top of a lot of other bad economic news, but the Jewish people have been through a lot in 3,500 years, and this is not the time to panic."

Even the Shapiro Foundation, which gave away about $80 million over the last decade but says it had invested between 40 and 45 percent of its assets with Madoff, said it is hoping to avoid reducing donations. "We really are committed to building back the resources as a foundation and anticipate that the foundation will continue to be a strong supporter of the region’s nonprofits for many years to come," said foundation spokeswoman Diana C. Pisciotta.

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