The Rabbinical Council of America, the largest Orthodox rabbinic group in the world, has today issued the following statement:
In light of the prominent role of Jews, both as perpetrator and as victim, in the financial scandal involving Bernard Madoff, the Rabbinical Council of America wishes to state the following:
We are distressed by the acts of deception and misuse of funds to which Mr. Madoff has reportedly confessed, and we are anguished by the suffering inflicted on individuals and organizations victimized by this scheme. He has caused untold harm across the full spectrum of the Jewish community and the Jewish people, and in the world at large.
There is no reason to believe that such terrible behavior is more common among Jews, religious or not, than among non-Jews. Nevertheless, we must all redouble our efforts to inculcate the value of honesty and integrity across every denominational segment of the Jewish community. Breaking the law, dishonesty, victimizing the innocent, and the excessive pursuit of the material, are all antithetical to the very core of Judaism.
At the same time, we note that the list of Jewish organizational victims underscores the remarkable scope of charitable activity within our community directed toward both Jews and non-Jews. Thus, the “Jewish” dimension of this scandal, properly assessed, points to the ethical misdeeds of the few and the ethical commitments of the many. We can build on this reality as we take steps to strengthen educational and other projects that will enhance our adherence to the ethical obligations required by the Torah.
The RCA recommits itself to working diligently as a rabbinic body to strengthen ethical and law-abiding behavior, by articulating and promoting the appropriate ethical values and practices throughout the Jewish community. In this regard it is to be noted that we expect to disseminate the initial report of our previously announced ethics initiative, titled Jewish Principles and Ethical Guidelines for Business and Industry (or JPEG B&I), in January 2009.