Monday, September 29, 2014

‘Trust Me... I’m Frum!’

Eliyahu Weinstein (Asbury Park Press by way of the New Zealand Herald)
I really wanted to avoid a post like this during these days of awe. We should not be focusing outward. We should instead be focusing inward. But when I saw this article in the New Zealand Herald yesterday, I  felt that I had to comment and publicly condemn this major Chilul HaShem. It is too big to ignore.

The Chilul HaShem perpetrated by this Kipa wearing Jew is breathtaking. He is an embarrassment to all observant Jewry. The unmitigated Chutzpah of Eliyahu Weinstein surpasses just about anything I can recall in the Orthodox world. At least not since a Monsey butcher sold Treif meat as Kosher to religious Jews a few years ago. Weinstein’s lack of conscience rivals that of both that butcher - and Bernie Madoff. Who may as well have been his spiritual mentor.

Although the $250 million fraud he committed with his Ponzi scheme (which he was convicted of) is paltry compared with Madoff’s  $50 billion Ponzi scheme, $250 million dollars ain’t peanuts. And who were Weinstein’s victims? He duped members of his own Shul, Brooklyn's Kahal Minchas Chinuch.  


Weinstein faces a 22 year prison sentence. That should have been enough to sober up even hardened criminals. You would think that Weinstein would think twice about ever doing something like that again. But he didn’t. Not even close. He did not waste a minute. While facing a 22 year sentence for his $250 Ponzi scheme, he dreamt up another scheme to defraud an investor, a farmer by the name of Gerald Chambers out of millions by selling him nonexistent shares of Facebook’s initial public offering( IPO). He convinced Chambers that he bought large blocks of that IPO at a discount managing to somehow get them when everyone else couldn’t.  

Can you imagine the unmitigated gall of doing something like that while awaiting sentencing on a conviction of a $250 million fraud ? It boggles the mind. Weinsten is a con-man par excellence. From the New Zealand Herald
According to the FBI, he spent a decade creating and executing a series of elaborate fraudulent investment schemes, taking advantage of his closest friends in New Jersey's ultra-orthodox Jewish community. 
Why did he do it? Well he wanted to live the good life and participate in exotic hobbies: 
Weinstein used the victims' money to amass a $6.2m watch collection, art, and $14m worth of jewellery and Judaica, or Jewish historical materials. He kept multiple passports and boasted that he could disappear at any time. 
What about Chambers’ money? 
Weinstein had used it to pay his mounting legal fees, take his home out of foreclosure, and send his children to religious school - as well as fund his own investments, including a gold deal in Africa, the court papers say. 
Paying for his legal fees?! Talk about Chutzpah!

In photos of Weinstein he is always seen with a big black Kipa that identifies him as Orthodox. Which of course makes the Chilul HaShem enormous! I’m sure that Weinstein used his Yarmulke and his overall religious appearance to generate trust.

I don’t usually advocate that anyone take off his Kipa,  I wear one proudly. But in Mr. Weinstein’s case I would not only suggest he take it off. I would forbid him from ever wearing one again if I had it in my power to do so.

While anyone can do Teshuva, I think that Eliyahu Weinstein has demonstrated that he could not care less about what he did, who he did it to, or what kind of Chilul HaShem he made. Not to mention the fact that Teshuva requires him to ask forgiveness from the people he cheated. I doubt that he is even capable of that. He is a narcissist and a sociopath. And deserves to be shunned by all of Orthodox Jewry.