Sunday, January 17, 2010

Torah based whistleblower - Rothstein Ponzi scheme

On a recent trip to Florida, I met with Alan Sakowitz, the whistleblower who alerted the FBI to flamboyant Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein's massive Ponzi scheme that is suspected of bilking investors of over $1.2 billion.

I had previous contact with Alan, who has advertised on from time to time on behalf of various Jewish causes. After reading news reports of how Alan tried to stop the billion-dollar fraud, I thought there may be a good lesson or two to share with our readers. And sure enough there was. [...]


  1. Scott Rothstein has been married to two non Jewish women.

    Alan Sakowitz is married to an Aishes Hayil whose mother (a"h) and sisters are also tzeddekes.

    Behind every great man is a great woman.

  2. i assume that the thief/con man was a non-jew? otherwise, would aish be giving the whistle blower such good press (rhetorical question)?

  3. Scott Rothstein is an example of what happens when a society and culture lose their sense of boosha.

    The same applies to rabbonim and manhigim. They too it seems are incapable of admitting error when need be and at times clearly lack boosha when to everyone else that is clearly the appropriate response. Instead, we get pilpul on how they are actually in the right and everyone else is in the wrong and if they are questioned, teh questioners are actually kofrim...

    And so it goes.

  4. to Jersey girl! i don't understand, he stole from people who also married goyim so maybe they deserve it?Seriously this is the split in the Frum world, how do you treat a know observant Jew! the approach of chabad, calbach and breslov is to love all Jew's equally even though they have faults! while the Litvisher, chassidisher kehillos and many more disown and distance themselves from theses unfortunate Jews! We are losing Jew's and their children to our inability to interact and teach them what they are lacking! Just for the record he gave money to all "Jewish organization " frum and non frum

  5. Scott Rothstein spit in the face of G-d when he married his first non Jewish wife (this Kim was the second Kim and the second non Jew).

    Scott always believed that he was bigger than G-d and better than anything that G-d commanded. It is not as though he did not know that intermarriage is wrong (ie tinok shenishba), it is simply that Rothstein always believed (even as a kid) that he was above the law- above ALL laws, G-d's laws and secular laws.

    Nothing mattered to Scott Rothstein except Scott Rothstein; anyone who had any interactions with him knew that.

    I objected very much (and this is not the first time I have objected) when Chabad of Downtown (Broward Blvd) put Rothstein's name on the building and gave him the tremendous kavod that they did.

    We do not give kavod to an intermarried man because a man who publicly cohabits with his Gentile wife is a rasha and there can be no question that he is a habitual sinner who has not done teshuva as long as he is going home with his non Jewish wife.

    We do not enter into business or social relationships with intermarried people. The intermarried person has no believability/accountability etc etc. The person who thinks he is above G-d's law, always believes he is above all laws and it is very likely that you will get hurt in any relationship with a rasha.

    Maybe someday Chabad (and others) will learn that following the halacha is not only G-d's law, but also that G-d gave us these laws for our own good and protection.

    We are not "losing" intermarried Jews; we have lost them. And if we do not shun them, as the halacha requires, they will destroy us along with themselves, as they have so many times before in our history.

    I realize that this is not the "feel good", "whatever you do we accept you" attitude of American society and now Chabad, but it is halacha and we have to live by it.

  6. I think that Allan should have told Scott that he was doing a ponzi and to stop
    Since he is married with a non-Jew, he could be classified as non-Jew, and this is why there is not mesira here

  7. I think that Scott knew he was doing a Ponzi !

    What Allan did was brave and good. I have always respected him, and now I respect him even more.

  8. It bears remembering that b'zman beis hamikdash there were those who openly worshiped baal. Recall too that they did so even as nissim were happening in plain view for all to see.

    Is Rothstein a rasha? I don't know. He may be a mumar le tayovon. If that is the case, isn't he worth saving?

    As for saying intermarried Jews are already lost, well, that is not always the case. I know one fellow who intermarried and then divorced- and his family and kehilla wanted no part of him.

    Is that an appropriate response?

    I know another fellow who struggles with his decision to intermarry, on a daily basis. He too clings to his belief. He has a child and he refuses to leave the child- and wife- he loves. Is his choice correct?

    Kids are falling off the derech at at alarming rate- are we ready to abandon them if they marry outside? And whose fault is it if they say they are finally happy? Do we ever really look at the world we have created for them?

    I was once referred an individual who fell off the derech and was 'ois mensch'.

    At age 17 he admitted to an interest in girls. He didn't want to date them or even (chas vesholom!) talk to them. His crime was that he noticed them. He was told all his torah was wasted and he was in fact a bizayon to his family and community. He was referred to as a pervert and a menuval in public. He was told he ruined any chances for a good shidduch for his siblings.

    I referred him elsewhere, to someone more competent in dealing with young adults.

    I shall leave the rebbono shel olam to sort it all out.

    At least in Haiti the devastation is easy to see. Were it only so visible in our communities. If you think I'm exaggerating, consider the fellow who actually thought that selling a kidney might actually be acceptable.

    Our problems don't start with intermarriage.

  9. Interesting that the article was written by an Aish fund raiser.

    I wonder what might have motivated him to write this article and what might have motivated Aish to post it.

  10. The halacha is that we must shun a habitual and unrepentant rasha. (This is certainly for our own protection!).

    Once he divorces his Gentile spouse, he has done teshuva and the above no longer applies.

  11. Jersey Girl-

    To be halachically classified as an authentic rasha is not so simple (requires hasroah, he has to be of sound mind, etc).

    As I noted, most of what we see today is not real rishus, in my opinion.

    Mumaring le tayovon are a lot more plentiful than reshaim, in my opinion.

  12. Jersey girl, let me list to you the problems
    1. The rambam paskins somebody wants to marry a woman and has a Hirrur Teshuva Mukudeshes, he is married to this woman and needs a full Get to get out of this marriage.
    2. Are you G-d or H-shem to decide who is going to gan eden or gehinom?
    3. Its a problem with all yidden today whos children go off the derech, do u support your child emotionally or leave them hanging to get into worse trouble,drugs ect.
    4. Yes he married a goy once or twice, now he is single, maybe he can become a bal teshuva? don lechaf zucos
    5. as a nonchabadnik, i support chabad in many ways including the check book because we all have faults, some more then others, but where do we send them???? to a litvisher kollel???? the felt need more understand people who are frum and have an open mind!

  13. Jersey Girl,is aJewish woman married to a gentile permitetd to eat and serve her Jewish children a bacon cheeseburger?
    Is a Jewish man who has married a non Jew permitted to have challah on Pessach?Eat on yom Kippur?
    Are you suggesting to treat Tropper the same way you would treat a Jew who has intermarried? If not ,why not?
    What would you like to see happen to the Jewish child of a gentile father?
    I have known a non Jewish man for 7 yeras.A very successfull buissnessmen. A big baal tzedakaha vocal supporter of Israel.Seriously invovled with his church and active in helping wayward youth.

    He lives in the deep south.He has always for some strage reason had a affinty to Jews.He could never explain why.He is legaly considered native American although there is no real manifestation of that in his life.

    We were speaking recently and he told me of a cousin of his who loves geneaologyk discovered that his maternal great great grandmoter was a Jew. The yichus is verifiable.Yes this man is a tinok shishba, As he starts learning about Judasim would you expect him to divorce his wife of 45 years? Reject his gentile grand children?his children?

    There is not one answer how to handle all situations.Just as in halacha often there are different shitot.Nobody argues if a pig is kosher or if there is a obligation to put on tfilin,but we do disagree if the tfillin are rebeinu tam or rashi.

    Nobody will halachically justify intermarriage,But how to handle each situation, needs the application of wisdom. Not all situations are the same.

  14. To Observer 2:
    I'm not sure what you thought my motivations for writing the article might have been, but here you go:

    I was overwhelmingly impressed with Mr. Sakowitz's integrity. Specifically with the fact that he himself attributed his living in a Torah community as the main influence which allowed him to see through the lies he was presented.

    This is an incredibly important message and one I thought the target audience of would appreciate hearing and could benefit from.

    Sorry if that disappointed you.

  15. I happen to know Mr. Sakowitz very well. When I think of someone yashrusdik, I think of him.

    Jersey Girl: His wife is an aishes chayil, but her mother who is also an aishes chayil is still alive B"H.

    Observer 2: The fact that you think that there is a connection between the interviewer being a fundraiser and him writing about Mr. Sakowitz shows me two things. 1) You have never met Mr. Sakowitz and 2) You are the kind of person who might (in your own words) be "motivated" to do things for the wrong reasons.

    I do think it matters whether or not someone is frum or not. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew.


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