Re: “A cappella group mocks Madoff in an original musical” (April 21). My father, Mitchell Levensohn, was in the graduating class of 1928. He was the wonderful son — brilliant, gentle, articulate — of impoverished parents. Harvard refused to accept him as being from a family too poor to possibly succeed. Yale accepted him under pressure from (non-Jewish) alumni who essentially shamed Yale into it. Mitch graduated first in his class, worked four jobs and won virtually every fellowship he applied for. He went on to get a Ph.D. in Classics and to teach at Yale College, the first Jew to do so. Ultimately, despite his brilliance, his political activism infuriated Yale, who saw him as their “show Jew” — handsome, articulate and a fine scholar. The Yale Corporation not only denied him tenure, but hounded him out of academia. Now, his beloved memory held close, it is all these years later.
Now I find myself a victim of Bernard Madoff. I am 65 years old, alone and now destitute, after 40 years of working and saving. I have no difficulty living simply; our family held that value close. But it is hard to be faced with homelessness, and there are nights when I lie awake rigid with fear. Many of Madoff’s victims have contemplated suicide. For me the pain and fear come not so much from the loss of money as from facing the reality of utter destitution.
Do not mistake the intent of this note: Humor is wonderful. I salute the News for the ability to laugh and make light; I too have laughed at some of the terribleness of this. But I think it is also important for Yale students and Jews and human beings to understand the terrible devastation Madoff has caused. Not all of the victims are or were people of great means.
There was a pervasive failure of government in this matter — failure involving deep sweeps across many agencies and suggesting a terrible failure of legislators and other public officials.
I hope Yale students, including those of you at the News, continue to make merry; I also hope that some of you will be the public officials of the future who care enough to take lesser salaries in exchange for safeguarding the public good.
New York City