How to Lose $1 Billion: Yeshiva University Blows Its Future on Loser Hedge Funds
TakePart.com in association with The Jewish Channel
*Winner, 2015 Excellence in Financial Journalism Award*
*Winner, 2015 Boris Smolar Award for Excellence in Investigative Journalism*
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Michael Hiltzik called it “an astounding investigative piece” in the Los Angeles Times. It is “fantastic reporting and writing” according to Clash of the Financial Pundits author Josh Brown, and Daniel Gross of The Daily Beast called it “a great piece.”
This story is the first piece to result from a 2-year investigation involving the review of more than 10,000 pages of legal and financial documents, dozens of interviews, and many FOIL requests. It is published as part of a partnership with a new CNN documentary about the cost of higher education, in a collaboration among TakePart.com and The Jewish Channel.
In sum, Yeshiva University is in dire financial straits, and its Madoff losses are just a small fraction of what got it there. Active choices by a new administration to shift investment and spending strategies generated a great amount of risk, and eventually that risk came home. Meanwhile, credit-ratings agency Moody’s ignored the problems at Yeshiva until it was too late.
Click the “Play” button below to hear me discuss this piece on NPR’s On the Media with Bob Garfield.
Praised by reporters from the AP, the New York Times, Buzzfeed, and more, this series was summarized by Commentary‘s John Podhoretz, who declared “Steven I. Weiss deserves a Jewlitzer.”
Until April 2013, the subject of this investigative series was considered among the most prominent rabbis on the globe. He had just been named one of the top 50 most influential rabbis in the country by The Daily Beast/Newsweek, and had reportedly been a leading candidate to be Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom. He had sat for decades as a judge on the largest rabbinical court in the country, and was commonly regarded as the most important Jewish legal mind of his generation. In addition, he was considered the leading scholar on the intersection of Jewish and American law — a tenured law professor at Emory University, which houses the U.S. News & World Report 23rd-ranked law school, and a Senior Fellow at the university’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion. At 9am the next business day after the first story in the series was published, he resigned all of his rabbinic positions.
The story revealed in this investigative series is that this rabbi had engaged multiple fake identities over the course of nearly twenty years that were used to write letters to scholarly journals praising his own work, join rival professional associations and gain access to their members-only communications, and even to create false evidence to buttress his scholarship.
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