Mark Madoff’s Name Became Too Big a Burden to Bear


Last Friday, the publisher of a promising real estate newsletter called Sonar Report rose before dawn, scoured the news to gather items for that day’s edition and, at 9:04 a.m., sent it out to his e-mail subscribers.

Unknown to almost all of his subscribers, that publisher was Mark David Madoff, the older son of the convicted swindler Bernard L. Madoff.

Less than 24 hours after sending his e-mail, he hanged himself in his downtown Manhattan apartment, leaving behind a life of burdens and blessings.

Read more at nytimes.com.

Madoff’s eldest son, Mark, found dead in suicide


From NYTimes.com:

Mark Madoff, the older of Bernard L. Madoff’s two sons, was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Saturday, the second anniversary of the day his father was arrested for running a gigantic Ponzi scheme that shattered thousands of lives around the world.

“Mark Madoff took his own life today,” Martin Flumenbaum, Mark Madoff’s lawyer, said in a statement on Saturday. “This is a terrible and unnecessary tragedy.”

One city official said that the first notification, via 911, was at 7:27.18, on Saturday morning, and the call was for a, “possible suicide.” The call came from a fourth-floor, private house at 158 Mercer Street, a 13-story building on the edge of Soho.

Read more at NYTimes.com.

Rites to Mark Argentine Terror Attack


At 9:53 a.m. this Sunday in Buenos Aires, a loud siren will sound in front of 633 Pasteur St., where the AMIA Jewish community center is located.

The siren will mark the moment 10 years ago when a bomb went off, killing 85 people in the most devastating terrorist attack in modern Latin American history. Hundreds of Argentines are expected to be standing on Pasteur and in nearby streets to commemorate the anniversary of the tragedy.

The DAIA political umbrella group, together with AMIA and Familiaris de Las Victims — the biggest group of victims’ relatives — jointly organized the commemoration ceremony in Buenos Aires.

The following day, DAIA President Gilbert Lei will be in New York to take part in a commemoration there of the AMIA attack.

The American Jewish Committee, which recently gave an award to Argentine President Nestor Kirchner for his friendliness to Jews and Jewish interests, is sending a delegation to Buenos Aires to take part in the ceremony.

Kirchner said he’ll attend the July 18 commemoration at the AMIA center, and the day will be declared a national day of mourning. The president attended last year’s commemoration a few weeks after taking office, and he has been praised for his commitment to investigating the attack.

Because of infighting in the community, Familiaris at first opposed co-sponsoring the demonstration with local Jewish leaders.

“We finally decided not to show our differences to the world on such a day,” explained Sergio Bernstein, a prominent Familiaris member. “We’re privileged to honor the victims.”

Barely a week before the commemoration, Familiaris still hadn’t chosen a speaker. “We need to make sure we have someone that won’t break down,” Bernstein said.

The Familiaris speech will come after speeches by representatives of AMIA and DAIA. AMIA President Abraham Kabul said he will speak on the 10-year investigation of the attack, focusing on how the case has lost its focus.

Ten days before the ceremony, DAIA leaders also had not chosen a speaker.

“No matter who talks, he’ll express the will for truth, justice and unity that DAIA feels,” said Jorge Kirszenbaum, DAIA vice president.

Many Jews are concerned that DAIA officials — aside from Lei — are still linked to the organization’s former president, Ruben Barrage. Barrage has been criticized by local Jews, because of his ties to former Argentine President Carlos Menem and the former investigative judge on the AMIA case. Menem has been implicated in media reports of hindering the AMIA investigation, because of his ties to Iran, which is believed to have been behind the 1994 attack.

When many Argentine Jews were furious about the slow pace of the investigation into the AMIA bombing, Barrage refused to criticize the authorities. Barrage currently is in prison for developments related to a bank bankruptcy.

DAIA is considering having a victim’s relative speak to avoid public criticism, according to local press reports.

Two other organizations of victims’ relatives, Memorial Active and Anemia, are not taking part in the main celebration. Memorial Active, which for years has been harshly critical of the investigation, will hold a ceremony Saturday night in front of the city’s central courthouse and will then hold an overnight demonstration with the Youth in Guard group.

Arabs, Jews Mix at Haifa Holiday Festival


Thousands of Jews and Arabs fill the winding stone alleyways
of a Haifa neighborhood, sampling latkes, roasted chestnuts and pastries
dripping in honey at a coexistence festival to mark the holidays of Chanukah,
Christmas and Ramadan.

Walking a path lined with poems by Arab and Jewish poets,
celebrants take in sculptures strung over archways and perched on street
corners, colorful murals painted on walls and photographs based on this year’s
theme, “Utopia.”

“It’s all about the longing for something better,” says Hana
Kofler, curator of the festival’s exhibition, which featured some 100 Israeli
artists. “Everyone wants a better future, both Jews and Arabs.” Â

Now in its 10th year, The Festival of Festivals provides a
rare occasion of unity for Arabs and Jews, who have grown increasingly wary of
each other during the three years of intifada.

Residents of Wadi Nisnas, the majority Arab working-class
neighborhood that hosts the festival, say Israel and others around the world
can learn a lot from their community and from the city of Haifa, a mixed
Arab-Jewish city.

Locals here are proud of a long tradition of Jews and Arabs
working and living together in peace.Â

“We have always gotten along here, and to see all these
people from around the country coming here is fun,” said Hassan Zatut, a
mechanic who lives in Wadi Nisnas.Â

As he speaks, a steady stream of people walk up the hill
outside his family home, which is crowded with merchants selling toys and
crafts.

“We are proud of what we have — this is the way it should
be,” he said.

“It’s an amazing sight to see so many Jews coming to an Arab
neighborhood, when most Jews in the country are terrified to go anywhere Arab,”
said Dan Chamizer, a Jewish artist and member of the Beit Ha’Gafen Arab-Jewish
Center, which organizes the event. “This is the only spot in the Middle East —
maybe in the world –where Arabs and Jews not only live together, but like each
other, work together, make art together.”

In honor of this year’s theme, Chamizer designed a giant
pair of rose-colored glasses made from iron and swirled pink-and-white glass.Â

Painted yellow footprints on the pavement lead visitors
throughout the neighborhood where artwork from festivals of previous years
mixes with new installations.

One artist posted a traffic light called “The Messiah.” When
the light turns green, the words “He is coming” light up; when it turns red,
“He is not coming” appears.Â

The mix of the whimsical and the serious characterize the
collection of art that fills Wadi Nisnas and expands every year. Because of the
festival, tourists come visit year-round.

On Saturday, church bells tolled and children in Santa Claus
hats rang bells and sang Christmas carols in Arabic under a canopy of gold
tinsel.Â

During the week of Chanukah, children’s plays are
performed.Â

To mark the recent end of the Ramadan fast, the public was
invited to join in the feasts and celebrations known as Eid al-Fitr.Â

Festival organizers say the winter festivals of the three
faiths is the ideal opportunity to throw a party. Each year the festival grows,
and nowadays tens of thousands of people come for each of the five consecutive
weekends of celebration. Dance productions, concerts and plays are part of the
festival, which also includes coexistence workshops.Â

The streets are lined with locals selling grilled meats,
Middle Eastern salads and cotton candy. The smell of cardamon wafts overhead as
strong cups of steaming Arabic coffee are poured into cups.Â

“It’s nice to see the folklore and traditions of both Jews
and Arabs,” says Michael Kandero, an Israeli Jewish factory worker from Afula,
who brings his family to the festival. “To connect with Arabs close up is
something we have missed out on in the last few years.” Â