Ezra Merkin, the New York moneyman who funneled 2.4 billion of clients’ money into Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme,is about to become chairman of the gilded Fifth Avenue Synagogue. That, however, is causing a fair amount of tsouris at the place.
Many of the synagogue’s members got hammered in the Madoff scandal and to have Merkin, whose father helped founded the temple, atop its power structure has cause some divisions.
“He’s tearing the synagogue apart,” seethed one member leaving services at the Upper East Side temple yesterday. “People cannot stand to look at him standing at the bimah. When he stands and holds the Torah, people want to throw up.”
The big question is why Merkin, who has been charged with fraud by New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo and is facing several civil suits, would want the job now. He’s already stepped down from other positions, including one at Yeshiva University and the top job at GMAC.