Fort Lauderdale, FL – Alleged Ponzi Schemer Rothstein, A Generous Contributor To The Orthodox Community

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    Photo Courtesy of Downtown Jewish Center ChabadFort Lauderdale, FL – South Florida’s Jewish community just can’t catch a break. First Bernie Madoff, now an alleged Ponzi scheme by Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein — what gives?

    Madoff lured Jewish friends at the Palm Beach Country Club to be investors in his Ponzi scheme, and when his fraud collapsed, Jewish charites lost hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s not yet clear how Rothstein’s scandal will impact Jewish investors.

    One thing is obvious: Rothstein’s imprint on the Fort Lauderdale Jewish community is indelible, and very visible. The chabad center on Broward Boulevard bears his name — The Rothstein Family Downtown Jewish Center Chabad.

    ​Rothstein, who has referred to himself as the “Jewish Avenger,” was clearly a generous contributor to the Orthodox chabad. He’s even featured in photos of the chabad’s grand opening party.

    But he’s not the kind of donor people are eager to embrace at the moment. When the Juice called the chabad’s Rabbi Schneur Kaplan to inquire if Rothstein’s name would be removed from the building, the answer was short and polite: “It would be inappropriate for me to make any comments at this time,” Kaplan said.

    Here’s hoping Kaplan knows a good lawyer.

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    41 COMMENTS

      • I doubt they would have to return all of the money. For example, the money spent on the building in reliance on believing it was a valid donation is probably safe. If there is money he gave that hadn’t been spent as of the date his fraud became public, that might have to go back. Indeed, Chabad probably would want to give it back.

      • You must be a rotten human being, it doesn’t matter if Rubashkin is guilty or innocent, but for you to write such a comment & wishing for a Yid to go to prison is beyond me, I really wonder if you have a jewish soul in you, should I tell you what it says in Chazal- Seforim about someone like you? I think its a waste of time, but to give you a hint, you might find yourself in the slammer much sooner.. grow up & do Teshuvah for your own well being. I hope you have no wife & kids..

          • I respectfully disagree. if I will have the time I will give you a lengthy explanation which will be backed by the words of Chazal etc. I just ask for your patience. Thanks!

        • this is interesting you are lecturing a person who didnt do any wrong other then you dont like what he wrote well let me tell you that to steal money from others who earned it with their honest and hard work is despicable to say the leat you #12 should do tshuva i am ashamed of yiddin like you who dont give a dammn about the person from whom the money was stolen this is the lowest i have ever come across

        • Thank you – I hope he takes your words to heart, although I have the feeling he won’t. Its the likes of #4 and others who are the root of all of the tzoros of klal yisroel. What a disgrace you are. And just as an aside even with all your hatred you should be able to see a clear difference between the two people that you mentioned- for a # of reasons.

      • I understand you get the kick out of writing nasty comments, and hoping to get some people mad. Well, Its unfortunatly a disorder that you suffer, which result that you lack attention like a child, do yourself a favor and go seek special help immediatly. the earlier you go for help the better your chances of success are. I think the treatment you will get is covered by medicaid. I wish you a speedy recovery, just stay strong and you will get out of it..

        • You must be one of his crook supporters, supporting crooks for $1.5 mil- You don’t have to make such a statement because someone is not agree with Rabbi Schur’s behaviour. The only respect the Rabbi and the Rebetzin has is for money, and money alone. It’s very obvious

    1. In the early 20th century, there was a famous bank robber named Willie Sutton. After he was caught and went to jail, he gave an interview to a reporter. The reporter asked, “Mr. Sutton, why did you rob banks?” Answered Willie, “Because that’s where the money is!”

      There are a lot of older, wealthy Jewish retirees in South Florida. Not surprisingly, they are the target for crooks and swindle artists of all kinds. One should keep in mind that while the scoundrels involved in these financial crimes are often (though not always) Jewish, so too are their victims often Jewish.

    2. Are you asking if he is walking around dressed as an orthodox Jew, or if he dutifully keeps the Shabbos from sundown to nightfall? Because the ‘Shomer Shabbos’ part (where if you keep Shabbos correctly , its as if you keep kol ha Torah kula, would not apply if indeed the allegations of him stealing money are true.
      If he is parading around as an orthodox Jew, I would imagine the chillul Hashem is greater; although with a last name like Rothstein, anybody can make a good guess as to his religion.
      I know a guy whose teacher told him if the guys were planning on speeding, they should at least remove their yarmulkas first. this teacher was not condoning speeding, only saying that if they were to break the law, they should not also embarrass their brethren.

    3. it seems many people who are involved in scamming, try to buy their way into heaven by giving their illicit gains to charity in a very flashy way.

      Maybe chabad and others should due diligence take big money, and return it if the money was stolen.

      • There is no feasible way to do due diligence on every donor. What are you going to do – spend thousands and thousands to hire price waterhouse to audit all the donor’s business practices and finances? You say to the donor I want to audit you to see if your money is good enough? They say fine, I’ll give my money elsewhere.

    4. It’s not unusual for ganovim to donate huge sums to Yeshivas, Shuls, etc.. and to have their names put on the buildings. Maybe it takes away some of their guilt about how they got the money.

    5. What happens often is much worse than a person who assuages guilt by giving charity. Sometimes as in the S. case several years ago and the R. case last year, a person found his victims by becoming a macher in a charity or several synagogues and yeshivos. Then he asked people who were his fellow board members to join him in a fabulous new investment, and used his contributions to the charities as evidence of his prior successful investments. When the investments collapsed, the donors to these mosdos were therefore disproportionately hurt, and the community institutions took a serious hit.

      • very interesting !
        In my experience, I have found a few “ba’al tzedakas” – gave millions to various institutions, then got busted for fraud. usually these people have a very low self esteem, which they enhance by making a lot of money (in any way possible) and then giving a lot of tzedaka. Either they go broke, because their source of income dries up (people find out who they really are, or G-d just takes away their parnosa)….. or they are busted by the feds. One or the other.
        But generally, look out for those baalei tzedaka…. sometimes all is not as it appears to be.

        • Unfortunately, you are 100% correct – there is a guy in my neighborhood who got a big name as a “gevere” but then “lost” everyones money in one investment (something with sattlelite TV stations) In this case, there was a THIRD option – this IPO NEVER happened and his partner just kept all the gelt !!! People were mamash ruined ….

    6. not that it matters much, but Schneur Kaplan is not authrorized to use the Chabad name in his activities, which is why his center is no longer listed on the Chabad website.

      • It’s a correct statement. Protecting a crook for $1.5 mil – It’s a shame. The Rabbi and the Rebetzin should know better. If they don’t have the funds they should keep a lower profile. Why does Schneur Kaplan have some other problem with other Chabad Rabbis and is not accepted in Ft Lauderdale by the Chabad authorities?? It’s not rude but a reality.

    7. for the record! there are two chabad centers in ft laudedale! Both the shlichim come from Gezair lubavitch@ JJ hecht, Gutnick and Kaplan. Just not the offical shluchim! nonmishcstim!
      Chabad rules!

      • Is that really the case? Maybe they just set up shop without signing up for the franchise. If you do that in any other business, you would be prosecuted in a court of law…. but Chabad just de-lists them…. which I think is very nice of them. No legal action, just confirmation that they are not under the official Chabad umbrella, and therefore Chabad The Organisation should not be blamed for anything that happens to or as a result of their actions.

        • oh??? so Chabad is a Business franchise???? nice to hear that. Now how about someone opens a Breslov shul or an ashkenazik shul they NEED to be listed some where to be considered legit???? give me a break.

        • There are several centers run by lubavitch rabbis that are not official “chabad houses.” Often they will use a name other than “Chabad House.” I’ve been told that sometimes its because of the nepotism system. The top chabad rabbi in a state doesn’t permit new houses to open in areas without one because they are saving that area for a son or future son-in-law. Sometimes chabad centers are not on the official website because the chabad houses have to pay to be on the site. Still, most of these unofficial chabad houses do great work and in practice are no different than the official ones.

          • Your information is completely off. Chabad is an organization that was set up by the Lubavitcher Rebbe and it has rules. Like any organization there is a boss that makes decisions. While it is true that some of these offshoot centers do good work it destroys the institution that was set up by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. There are over 100 Chabad institutions in Florida and two are run by the sons of the head Rabbi. I asked my Chabad Rabbi and there is no so called “charge” for being on Chabad.org. However you do need to be recognized by the general institution and follow rules (working together for a greater cause). These renegade “Rabbis” need to work with everyone else for this greater cause. Over 100 Chabad institutions in Florida and over 4000 in the world work together as a team any points that you mentioned are not an excuse to defy this beautiful unity. Do you think with 4000 institutions in the world everyone gets along? but they work together with a code of unity and when things don’t work out they compromise. Chabad promotes selflessness and oneness, these offshoot centers need to join the cause.

          • No not a Shul but a Chabad house. A shul you can open wherever and whenever you want but if you want to be part of Chabad you need to follow rules and rule #1 is they work together as a team.

    8. Chabad is not a business, but it does have the right to choose who can represent it and the Rebbe. Rabbi Kaplan’s center is not officially recognized as a Chabad Shliach (not because of this matter), for a variety of reasons, despite his being very well-connected family wise in Chabad.

    9. 3-26-2010 Today I spoke on the phone with Abraham Korf, the Miami rabbi who serves as regional director of all 145 chabads in Florida. Rabbi Korf confirmed that Scott Rothstein’s former chabad, the Downtown Jewish Center Chabad in Fort Lauderdale, isn’t sanctioned by the World Lubavitch Headquarters.

      He said Rabbi Schneur Kaplan has nothing to do with the hierarchy anymore.

      “He is out of the picture,” said Rabbi Korf of Kaplan. “He does not follow the rules and regulations that chabad stands for, so we removed him from the group. I can’t get into details, but he did not want to follow the rules. If everyone did what they want, not act by the regulations, there would be no more chabad.”

      Rabbi Korf said he didn’t know Scott Rothstein’s name before the Ponzi scheme imploded, but he had heard about the mysterious lawyer who was giving lots of money to Kaplan’s renegade operation.

      “I heard about somebody that gave Rabbi Kaplan a lot of money, a certain lawyer, but I didn’t know who that lawyer was and I don’t how much money he gave,” said Korf. “I had just heard that he had gotten from this lawyer a lot of money.”

      Although it is known that Kaplan had broken ranks from Fort Lauderdale Rabbi Moishe Meir Lipszyc, Korf wouldn’t get into details of what caused the split and, ultimately, the excommunication of sorts of Kaplan. He said he would have to get authorization from his own superiors in the organization to tell the story and wasn’t inclined to do it.

      “We warned [Kaplan] many times, but it didn’t help, so we had to remove him,” said Korf. “It’s not right for me to tell what he did. We have our own system. We don’t do things in public, and such things could lead to court cases, and I don’t have the money or the time to get involved in such things.”

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