Bintel Blog

L'Affaire Madoff and the 'Enabling Wives'

By Gabrielle Birkner

  • Print
  • Share Share

In the wake of L’Affaire Madoff, writer Daphne Merkin, the sister of investor J. Ezra Merkin — his Ascot Partners fund had invested most all of its $1.8 billion with Madoff — bemoans in The Daily Beast the general invisibility of women in the world of finance. Without naming names, she writes of the limited role of the “enabling wives who serve as silent business partners or facilitating daughters … serving as an advancing flotilla of social connections.” Discussing her own meager fiscal education, she writes:

“As a daughter, I was raised to know nothing about money. Whenever I tried to ask my father a question on the subject he would respond, “Nu, Daphne? Since when the interest in business?” and shoo me away. … My closest exposure to the world of men and money was at the Jewish charity dinners I would sometimes attend as my father’s escort when my mother didn’t feel like going. At these functions, the men who mattered would often sit on a raised dais while the women sat at round tables below, wearing competitive jewelry and trading off-the-Beltway news. …”

Madoff’s alleged Ponzi scheme also has Merkin reflecting on the world of Jewish immigrants detailed in Michael Gold’s book “Jews Without Money.”

“[The book] conjured up the ragamuffinish dark-eyed children scampering around the crowded streets of the Lower East Side, the women bent over sewing machines in sweat shops, the men peddling goods or fixing watches. … We are long past such concrete equations, long past the notion that goods and services can hold their own against the making of money off money, endless piles of paper, derivatives, credit default swaps, puts, off-shore accounts and funds of funds. Then again, the entrepreneurial imagination, which grew ever more epic and risk-taking across two decades of deregulation, has always been the primary capitalist trope. Still, does anyone — men, women, gurus, tycoons, Paulson, Perelman — really understand what goes into making billions of dollars, much less losing it all in one fell swoop?”

In addition, The Daily Beast features a delicious passage from Merkin’s novel 1986 novel “Enchantment.” The excerpted scene takes place at a Jewish charity gala that resembles those Merkin attended as a child.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: J. Ezra Merkin, Daphne Merkin, Bernard Madoff

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.