Yeshiva University Cashing In Assets In Wake Of Madoff Swindle


madjThe asset sale at Yeshiva University rolls on. The latest: the school is approaching a deal to hand off 10 apartment buildings near the Wilf campus at 185th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

Several of the properties have been hit with violations over extremely hot water and mold. The pending sales provide “an infusion of cash that will be used to strengthen our financial position,” Yeshiva President Richard Joel said on the university website, as cited by the New York Daily News.

The modern orthodox Jewish institution is still struggling financially after losing roughly $100 million to one-time trustee Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Companies have liquidated their investments in the university’s debt, particularly after Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the paper to junk bond status in January, as previously reported. The school’s deficit was $105.9 million in 2012; $46.7 million in 2011; and $107.5 million in 2010.

In February 2013, Yeshiva sold two office buildings in Midtown South between Fifth and Sixth avenues, for a combined $115 million. The month after, the school sold another two office properties to a partnership of ClearRock Properties and Juster Properties for $87.5 million.

(Source: The Real Deal)


  1. YU has always had serious money issues.It is very hard to even attempt to set up a quality university from scratch. most of the “good” universities date back to the early 19th or 18th centuries. The few new (20th century) ones that have pulled it off (University of Chicago, Stanford, Brandeis, etc.) had humongous amounts of money behind them. YU is a yeshiva that is trying to set up a first rate university, which may be a hopeless task. They are focused on a not especially affluent population (very few orthodox Jews have “old money”, and most have “too many” siblings). And at this time (early 21st century, post- “Great recession”), most of the non-elite private schools are having serious financial problems.

    Remember it isn’t YU the “yeshiva” that is in trouble – frankly yeshiva’s aren’t that expensive. The crisis pertains to YU the university, that is one of the better “second tier” private universities (and the only reputable Shomer Shabbos one – Touro really doesn’t score well in the “reputable” category).

  2. Commenter No. 4 tells us, in his second paragraph, that yeshivas are not that expensive. Can we conclude that the operators of yeshivas are fabulously wealth, because the tuitions seem high? Is the “tuition crisis” a hoax?

  3. #5 – A typical college costs $50K per year, not counting room and board. That’s full tuition. Most of the good ones have huge endowments that allow liberal need based aid. On a high school level, a private school typically costs about $30K per year (and remember they don’t have any Torah studies, just “English”).

    Yeshivos cost much, much less. Virtually no yeshiva has extensive and expensive athletic faciliites. Torah libraries are much smaller than university libraries. Needless to say, the dorms are much more modest. The rabbanim in yeshivas are barely middle class, whereas full time tenured professors are usually in the top tenth of incomes – comfortably upper middle class, or better. Compared to colleges, yeshivos are a low budget operation.

    However yeshivos lack endowments both since they are all new (most were founded after World War II, whereas most good universities are already in their second or third centuries), and because the frum community isn’t all that well off (again, we are new to America, and have large families). And the “market” for yeshivos consist of people with large families and less than upper class incomes (meaning with incomes that in the rest of America would preclude attendance at a private school).

    For families that are “normal” by American (secular) Jewish standards (not more than two children ,perhaps a cat instead of one kid, and both parents with six-figure incomes) – there is no “tuition crisis.” However most frum families have multiple children, often the mother is not producing a substantial income, and even most fathers’ earning power is seriously restricted by being frum. While we are rich compared to what we were a century ago, we are poor by American standards.

    So the problem is that while a yeshiva is cheap to run, the “customers” of a yeshiva are much worse off in terms of abillity to pay. And YU is trying to run a first rate, and much more expensive, university, while serving a community that has a hard time supporting yeshivos.