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After Madoff, donations come in to help Wiesel

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Unsolicited private donors are trying to help Elie Wiesel in the aftermath of the Bernard Madoff scandal.

Wiesel, the Nobel Prize-winning author, lost several million dollars of his personal fortune and his foundation took a $15.2 million hit in the Ponzi scheme.

In recent months, small and large donations totaling $400,000 have flowed into The Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, the Conde Nast Portfolio business magazine’s Web site disclosed March 26. Some of the money was given directly to Wiesel and his wife, Marion, but the couple turned everything over to the foundation.

“At any moment it would have been an amazing outpouring of generosity,” Marion Wiesel told Portfolio.com, “but specifically in these times it’s so amazing, and it continues.”

Donations to the Wiesel Foundation, which supports afterschool centers in Israel, international conferences and various humanitarian awards and prizes, have ranged from $5 to $100.

Small contributions came from “people we don’t know, in places we’ve never been to,” Marion Wiesel said.

Two alumni of Boston University, where Wiesel has taught for more than 30 years, have launched an e-mail campaign to encourage 1 million people to donate $6 each in remembrance of the 6 million Holocaust victims.

At a panel discussion March 26 sponsored by Portfolio, Elie Wiesel said of Madoff, “We gave him everything, we thought he was God, we trusted everything in his hands.”

Wiesel added that he could never forgive Madoff, who is now in jail awaiting sentencing.

“I would like him to be in a solitary cell with a screen," he said, "and on that screen, for at least five years of his life, every day and every night there should be pictures of his victims.”

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