AJCongress 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 most historically powerful organizations of the Jewish-American establishment, is temporarily suspending its operations, sources told The Jerusalem Post Saturday.
Inside sources said that the Jewish group, which was hit hard by Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, may merge with the American Jewish Committee, which would mark the end of the 92-year-old organization's time as an independent group.
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Richard Gordon, President of AJCongress, said that "we have the money in the bank, but cannot get to it because of our constitution. We expect to have access to it in a matter of weeks."
Regarding speculations on a merger with the American Jewish Committee, he said "we're talking to the American Jewish Committee time and again...where it leads, I don't know."
Rumors surrounding the imminent demise of the near-insolvent AJcongress have been circulating since shortly after news broke that it had lost a large sum in an investment with Madoff.
Last April Haviv Rettig Gur reported for The Jerusalem Post that the group may have lost as much as 90 percent of its roughly $24 million endowment, and 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.
During its 92-years the organization has had a huge impact on the Jewish-American establishment. Ironically, the American Jewish Congress was originally formed as an alternative to the Jewish American Committee, which may now rescue it from insolvency. 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 it was an early and loud supporter of human rights, Zionism and other matters important to the Jewish community in North America.