After Elie Wiesel lost more than $7 million of his personal fortune in the Bernard Madoff scandal, and his foundation took a $15.2 million hit, the Nobel Prize winner has been flooded by money from sympathetic members of the public.
Following publicity for Wiesel’s losses, donations totalling $400,000 have flowed into his Foundation for Humanity. Some of the money was given directly to Wiesel and his wife Marion, but the couple have turned everything over to the foundation.
Marion Wiesel described it as “an amazing outpouring of generosity”.
Among the donors are two alumni of Boston University — where Wiesel has taught for more than 30 years — who launched an email campaign to encourage one million people to donate $6 each in remembrance of the six million Holocaust victims.
Donations to the Wiesel Foundation, which supports after-school centres in Israel, international conferences and various humanitarian awards and prizes, have ranged from $5 to $100,000.
Many small contributions came from “people we don’t know, in places we’ve never been to”, Marion Wiesel said.
When the news of his losses emerged, Wiesel said of Madoff: “We gave him everything, we thought he was God, we trusted everything in his hands.”