Is Hadassah cutting a deal with Picard to avoid a clawback lawsuit?


The Forward reported Friday that Irving Picard, the trustee for Bernard Madoff’s estate, had filed lawsuits late last week against a number of Jewish charities and individuals who actually made money on their investments in the multi-billion dollar scam.

Picard is trying to recover as much money as he can via these “claw-back” lawsuits to repay those victims who lost money with Madoff. Among the organizations sued were the America-Israel Cultural Foundation (for $5 million), the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem (for $7 million),  and United Congregations Mesorah (for more than $16 million), along with 20 private foundations, according to the Forward.

Conspicuously absent from the list was Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, which made millions, albeit inadvertently, in Madoff’s scam. It was initially reported that Hadassah had lost $90 million, the stated value of its Madoff account at the time that the scheme was shut down. But it turned out that since 1987 the organization had put $40 million in, but withdrawn at least $130 million.

The Fundermentalist is hearing now that Hadassah may have avoided a lawsuit by cutting a deal with Picard that could be approved by the organization’s board Thursday. Picard has a Dec. 11 deadline to file clawback lawsuits. 

According to several sources within the organization, Hadassah’s lawyers have been working with Picard on a settlement. They will present the settlement to Haddassah’s higher-ups at a meeting Wednesday evening in Chicago. And then the proposal will be brought to Hadassah’s board for approval Thursday.

Sources did not know how much Hadassah would be required to pay back under the possible settlement, but believed it would be less than the full amount that the organization had taken out of its Madoff account over the years.

The organization recently sold an apartment it owned next to its headquarters that has been used traditionally by its president. It is believed that the proceeds from that sale – speculated at under $1 million — would be used to pay Picard. But the organization would likely owe far more.

Hadassah would have a hard time using many of its cash assets to cover the costs of a deal, as most are restricted by donors for specific uses. 

The organization, according to one source, is contemplating selling its building to pay off its Madoff settlement. 

When contacted by The Fundermentalist, a spokesperson for Hadassah declined comment, except to confirm that the organization had not been sued.


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