AJ Congress suspends activities

Organization lost most of its endowment in Madoff Ponzi scheme.

American Jewry 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
American Jewry 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The American Jewish Congress, one of the oldest and historically powerful organizations of the Jewish-American establishment, has temporarily suspended its activities due to financial constraints.
Richard Gordon, president of the AJCongress told The Jerusalem Post that the organization has temporarily run out of funding.
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“We have the money in the bank, but can’t get to it due to our constitution,” Gordon said.
“We expect to be able to access the account within a few weeks.”
Although an official statement announcing the cessation of the AJCongress has yet to be made, the decision was confirmed by sources that spoke on condition of anonymity, as well as by an automated e-mail response from one of the organization’s senior officials.
“After July 15, 2010, AJCongress has suspended most of its operations,” read the e-mail sent by AJCongress’s Matthew Horn in response to an inquiry. “It has been a great pleasure and honor working with you during my nearly five-year tenure with AJCongress, both as its policy director and for the past two years as its co-executive director.”
Rumors surrounding the imminent demise of the nearinsolvent AJCongress have been circulating since shortly after news broke that it had lost a large sum in an investment in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.
Reports group lost up to 90% of its endowment
Last April, the Post reported that the group may have lost as much as 90 percent of its roughly $24 million endowment, and that it lacked a large membership and donor base.
According to its Internal Revenue Service Form 990 for 2008, its net assets dropped from $16.9m. in 2007 to $3.8m. in 2008. It has spent much of the time since the collapse trying to find a replacement financial base.
Throughout its 92-year history, the American Jewish Congress has had a huge impact on the Jewish-American establishment. Under the leadership of its founder, the influential Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and the support of notable jurists Felix Frankfurter and Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, the AJCongress was an early and strong supporter of human rights, Zionism and other matters important to the Jewish community in North America.
Ironically, it was originally formed as an alternative to the American Jewish Committee, which is now rescuing it from insolvency.
“We are talking to the American Jewish Committee constantly,” said Gordon.
“Where it will lead, I don’t know.”