The N.Y. Post looks at Fifth Avenue Synagogue


Somehow forgot to post this on Sunday…

The New York Post takes a look at the losses suffered by members of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue:

 Ira Rennert, chairman of the synagogue’s board and owner of the priciest mansion in the Hamptons, had $200 million staked in Madoff’s fund, Fortune magazine reported.

He was one of at least 10 synagogue heavy hitters fleeced in the scandal, said a prominent congregant.

The synagogue was a breeding ground for Madoff investors given that its president, J. Ezra Merkin, reportedly served as a powerful recruiter for the alleged scamster.

Merkin is said to have given Madoff, who does not belong to the synagogue, access to a slew of universities and Jewish organizations.

Merkin had $1.8 billion wrapped up with the shady investor through his fund, Ascot Partners – in many cases, without his clients’ knowledge.

Other prominent Fifth Avenue Synagogue members who took a bath include Elie Wiesel, the author and Nobel Peace Prize winner, whose foundation lost $37 million, and investment banker Michael Jesselson, whose SAR Academy, an Orthodox Jewish school in The Bronx, took a $1.3 million hit, Fortune reported.

"Obviously, it’s a black eye for the synagogue," said financial adviser and synagogue member Joseph Sprung of the extraordinary losses members suffered in Madoff’s $50 billion wipeout.

Almost a dozen prominent families of the synagogue – the favored New York house of worship for former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – sustained heavy losses in the Madoff madness, one congregant estimated.

"The synagogue isn’t going to be wiped out, but it’s an awful thing to have happened," said Sprung, who was not invested with Madoff.

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