While Yeshiva University was hard-hit by the Madoff scandal, to the tune of $110 million, it is not the only educational institution to suffer. The damage has spread to Israel, and the Technion Institute in Haifa is among the big losers: The university, which has been called Israel’s MIT, lost NIS 25 million (about $6.5 million), and its American fund-raising arm, American Technion Society, lost what amounts to $72 million.
Norman Seiden of Tenafly, vice chairman of the Technion’s international board of governors and a member of the American Technion Society for more than 40 years, told The Jewish Standard on Monday that “about $29 million was the net investment, and [the investment committee] let it ride. The reported gains were $43 million.” But those gains were not realized, because “each year whatever monies they made they reinvested.”
According to Seiden, the investment committee was “a very senior committee of professionals; they did due diligence like everyone else, and could not find anything” to indicate that Bernard Madoff was not to be trusted. “He was very reputable,” Seiden added.
While this kind of loss “has never happened to the Technion before and it’s tragic,” Seiden said, “it’s not threatening the life of” the 84-year-old internationally acclaimed university.
“This is part of an almost $300 million portfolio,” he pointed out. The Technion is “going to restructure, to rebalance its portfolio. It will take all the necessary steps, including legal steps” to see what can be recovered and to move forward.
As for the American Technion Society, he called it “an extremely strong organization with very loyal followers, and we’ll all do what has to be done to meet the challenge…. The ‘American friends’ will go out fund-raising. It’s a very loyal constituency.”
The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday that the society has already received $2.8 million in unrestricted gifts.
Noting that Madoff had allegedly preyed on Jewish institutions and charities, Seiden could not contain his outrage. “It’s horrible what this man did,” he said, “how cunning and outrageous this man was, without feelings for people – his own people.”