When the Bernard Madoff scandal broke in 2008, some Jews feared a rise in anti-Semitism, predicting that age-old stereotypes of the greedy Hebrew would be awakened and again perpetuated. Now, nearly two years later, despite a minor increase in typically anonymous, bigoted comments on websites and blogs, it remains mostly a Jewish obsession: How could he have done it to his own tribe?
Deborah Margolin takes this question further in her provocative and compelling new play, “Imagining Madoff,” which ran from July 21 to August 7 at StageWorks/Hudson in upstate New York. In her carefully crafted script, Margolin concocts an encounter between Madoff and an Elie Wiesel-like client, a Holocaust survivor and acclaimed poet whose synagogue is the latest unwitting victim of the investor’s Ponzi scheme. It is, in Margolin’s eyes, the meeting of two abiding and opposing Jewish prototypes: the scholar and the street tough; philanthropist and ganef; those who respond to hardship by learning and giving, and those who bitterly take.
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