A top worry among seniors is the possibility of outliving their savings. Yet, as we explore in the summer cover story of B’nai B’rith Magazine, longevity is not the only threat to their savings. Seniors can also be vulnerable to financial scams and exploitation.
“Most financial exploitation is perpetrated by family members or caregivers at an intimate level,” observes Leah Nichaman, founder and president of Everyday Money Management, a fee-based Rockville, Md. firm that helps seniors with financial matters.
Seniors often need a trusted adviser to help them manage their financial affairs. Unfortunately, she says, too many advisers attempt to control the senior—and their money—through emotional or psychological abuse. “Having an objective third party involved makes exploitation less likely to happen in the first place,” says Nichaman. “It’s also more likely to be detected if it does occur.”
“It’s important to make sure that your financial life is transparent to at least one other trusted person. The ideal relationship would be an attorney, money manager, financial adviser and family members, all working together.”
To avoid scams, Nichaman offers these prevention tips:
- Identify a trusted individual to have power of attorney over your funds. It should be someone willing to accept fiduciary responsibility who can document everything and act as a legal agent.
- Establish transparency. Be sure to specify how this individual can use money, his or her powers and boundaries, and who else can see what’s going on.
- Use direct deposit and lock up the checkbook. Seniors often have increased traffic of persons passing through their homes. Remove these temptations.
- Have someone review monthly statements. This is especially important with automated payments.
- Choose a financial adviser who is not tied to any specific product. Seek out an independent adviser with a broad perspective.
By Bruce H. Wolk
The presentation ceremony of the Distinguished Flying Cross to copilot Loren Millard at Wright Patterson Air Field in Dayton, Ohio. From left to right: General Janet Wolfenbarger; Harvey Horn’s wife, Minverva Horn; Harvey Horn; and three of Millard’s four children, Norma Stefanik, William Millard and Kenneth Millard.
On March 20, 1945, Harvey Horn, a Jewish flight officer from Brooklyn, N.Y., was navigating the bomber dubbed “Pretty Baby’s Boys.” The plane, on its way to bomb railroad yards south of Vienna, Austria, was hit by flak over Zagreb, Croatia. The engines began to fail, and the plane began to sputter out of control. Pilot John Lincoln and copilot Lorin Millard wrested control of the bomber as it came in over Fiume at just 500 feet. Anti-aircraft batteries opened up on them. The pilots ditched the bomber under fire into Kvarner Bay, Yugoslavia, at 100 miles per hour, saving the lives of all 10 crewmembers. Their feat would go unrecorded and unappreciated. Yet for Horn, there remained the nagging feeling that something had to be done to honor his pilots. The feeling did not diminish with time. B’nai B’rith Magazine recently interviewed Horn about his efforts to get his pilot and copilot the recognition they deserved.
BBM: When did you realize the pilot and co-pilot needed to be honored?
Horn: I always believed that any pilot who ditched a plane and saved lives should be awarded a medal. Years ago, our tail gunner Sergeant Louis Brown, asked me to put in a medal for the crew. I replied, “Why? We didn’t do anything. John and Lorin should be awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) for what they did to save our lives.” I also told him that I wasn’t high enough in the chain of command. Only John, who had passed away by then, or Lorin could have initiated the application. By then, Lorin was about 88. He had no interest in pursuing this claim.
BBM: Then why did you feel responsible to start the process?
Horn: Simply, they were my heroes. Then on Jan. 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger magnificently landed his U.S. Airways jet into the Hudson River. I said to my wife that my guys did the same thing but in a B17, under fire, that had a ball turret sticking out of the bottom. Then and there, I made up my mind to apply for the DFC for John and Lorin.
BBM: Was it difficult to make the application?
Horn: First, I was told that the cut-off date for WWII commendations was May 1951, and I almost quit; I then learned the rule was rescinded in 1996 to a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, I started by writing to Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, then to the senators and congressmen from my state of New York, and then Ohio and California, Lorin and John’s home states. One of my roadblocks was that someone of higher rank than I needed to have first-hand knowledge of the ditching. As it turned out, the only eye witnesses I had were two local kids in Fiume, Italy.
BBM: How did you learn this?
Horn: In 2007, my wife and I visited Rijeka. Incredibly, the travel agent had a cousin, Stelio Vranicich, who was nine years old at the time and saw the crash landing. Also, there was a 12-year old boy, Ivo Simonic, who was standing next to two SS officers. One of the officers said to Ivo, “The pilot must be very efficient and competent and have great skill.” They remembered that day with great accuracy. Stelio Vranicich, now 74, wrote a letter on behalf of the pilots that I submitted as part of the application.
BBM: Was anyone else helpful to you during the process?
Horn: The offices of New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan were particularly helpful. They wrote letters of support. The real breakthrough came when I called the Air Force Review Board and spoke with former Sgt. Raymond Diaz, chief of intake analysis. He helped me fill out all the proper forms. I also gave Ray information on contacts for John and Lorin’s families. I pleaded for the process to be expedited as Lorin was dying of cancer. (Lorin died July 9, 2011.)
BBM: Despite your hard work, the first application was rejected.
Horn: They said my story had inconsistencies. They said we weren’t hit by flak, but that the engines were pulling too much power, an engine malfunction. Incredibly, the tail gunner was awarded the Purple Heart from being hit by a piece of flak on that same mission. Sergeant Stover, the radio operator, wrote that they were hit by flak in his story for the 772nd Bomber Group history book. Then the review board said I wasn’t under John’s command. That was obviously incorrect. Nevertheless, it was rejected.
BBM: But then it was reversed?
Horn: Yes, a letter submitted by Louis Brown, my fellow crewmember who had been hit by flak, was not previously considered by the Air Force Review Board. Therefore, the board reviewed the entire application process. Surprisingly, on March 16, 2012, Ray called and said the board reversed its findings. John and Lorin would be awarded the medal. I was literally brought to tears and walking on air. John Lincoln’s family declined a presentation and had the medal sent to them. The Millard family was informed the presentation could be made at Wright Patterson Air Field in Dayton, Ohio.
BBM: How many crewmen remain from Pretty Baby’s Boys?
Horn: I believe I am the last.
BBM: You told me that you were the only Jewish airman on the crew. We are taught tikkun olam, to help heal the world. Do you feel you performed such an act?
Horn: In a way, yes. These two men made a difference for all of us. I would not have lived my life; none of us would have lived our lives. I’m persistent. I believe that if something is doable, I find a way to do it. I stayed with it.
Jews and Muslims in America
In response to our winter 2012 cover story on Jewish-Muslim relations in America, we received several letters to the editor. Below is an exchange between one letter writer—Eric Rozenman, the Washington, D.C. director of CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America)—and Dina Kraft, who reported and wrote the story. The initial letter by Rozenman and response by Kraft (below) were published in the spring 2013 issue. The follow-up letter and response (which are posted here, below the initial exchange) were recently submitted and are being published online only.
The article “Jews and Muslims in America: A New Flowering Amid the Tensions” in the Winter issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine relates some moving vignettes about Jewish-Muslim outreach. Unfortunately, it relies too heavily on Prof. Ingrid Mattson and the organization of which she is a past president, the Islamic Society of North America.
The article refers to the Islamic Society of North America as “the largest umbrella organization for Muslim groups.” That is how the society presents itself. However, it is hardly “Islamophobic” to point out that:
The society traces its roots to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to spread sharia, Islamic law, globally.
It was an unindicted co-conspirator in America’s largest terrorism funding trial to date, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development case. Though society officials claim it has moved beyond its Brotherhood roots, a Brotherhood list of “our organization and the organizations of our friends” seized by federal investigators in the successful Holy Land Foundation prosecution included ISNA.
FBI records from the 1980s indicate “ISNA conferences provided opportunities for the extreme fundamentalist Muslims to meet with their supporters.”
Money from Saudi Arabia has been a key source of ISNA support since its creation; and ISNA conferences have continued to feature anti-Israel, anti-Semitic publications and speakers.
During Mattson’s 2006–2010 presidency, she discounted the existence of radical Muslims in the United States despite a spike in homegrown extremism. As a professor of Islamic studies and Christian-Muslim relations at Hartford Seminary, she downplayed the extremism of Saudi Arabia’s puritanical, anti-Western Wahhabi school of Islam…
Jewish-Muslim outreach is important and, as the article noted, so is knowing to whom we are reaching out.
Washington (D.C.) Director
CAMERA—Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
Writer Dina Kraft responds:
The accusations [CAMERA] cites are dated and discounted. The Anti-Defamation League and the Reform movement swear by Mattson and ISNA. As I note in the story, Eric Yoffie (past president of the Union of Reform Judaism) was a featured speaker at their convention a few years ago.
A federal judge has said that the status of the group as an unindicted co-conspirator should never have been revealed, because the federal government needed the unindicted co-conspirator not to implicate ISNA and other groups, but to facilitate entry of evidence against Holy Land. He said the revelation harmed groups that committed no criminal activity. The feds agreed and admitted the mistake. It’s more than a little McCarthyist to continue using it against them.
CAMERA cites ISNA as having origins in the Muslim Brotherhood. ISNA has stated in legal documents that it has no part in the organization. But the accusation continues, something the organization and its defenders, among them prominent Jewish leaders and religious figures I interviewed, say is part of a bid to discredit the organization…
As for having Saudi funding…if they do benefit from such funding, it would be worth mentioning, but only once the source in Saudi Arabia was determined. Several U.S. institutions receive funding from Saudi sources, including prominent universities.
Eric Rozenman responds
Dina Kraft’s reply to our letter (spring, 2013), criticizing her article “Jews and Muslims in America: A New Flowering Amid the Tensions” (winter, 2012), misleads readers.
Kraft claims evidence CAMERA cited disputing the Islamic Society of North America’s moderation is “dated and discounted.” Hardly. In the successful 2009 terrorism funding prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a key Muslim Brotherhood list of “our organization and the organizations of our friends” included ISNA.
Kraft makes much of the fact that a judge determined ISNA’s unindicted co-conspirator status in that case should not have been made public. She doesn’t mention that the status was not revoked.
In support of her portrayal of ISNA as mainstream, she says Rabbi Eric Yoffie, past president of the Union for Reform Judaism, spoke at a recent society convention. But so have Holocaust denier Yasir Qadhi and Siraj Wahhaj, Siraj Wahhaj, listed by the U.S. government among “unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators” in the early 1990s plot lead by the “blind sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman, to blow up New York City landmarks.
Kraft dismisses CAMERA’s observation that Saudi Arabian money is a key source of ISNA’s support—“if they do benefit from such funding, it would be worth mentioning, but only once the source in Saudi Arabia was determined.” Saudis have spent tens of billions of dollars underwriting “charities throughout the Islamic Diaspora,” according to former Treasury Department general counsel David Aufhauser. They’ve done so to teach “unforgiving, intolerant, uncompromising and austere views” of Islam.
Kraft alludes to “a bid to discredit” ISNA. CAMERA’s interest is in accurate reporting, in context, whether such coverage makes ISNA look good, bad or indifferent. Our objection is to glossing over an organization rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that, despite denials, still hosts individuals and offers for sale publications with extremist views and, according to a recent Gallup survey, speaks for no more than 12 percent of American Muslims.
Washington (D.C.) Director
CAMERA—Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
Dina Kraft responds:
CAMERA claims it seeks accurate reporting and then goes and repeats its circular arguments and disingenuous statements.
The fact that ISNA turned up on a “key Muslim Brotherhood list of ‘our organization and other organizations of our friends’” seems to be guilt by association twice removed. More to the point, the Muslim Brotherhood can claim whatever it wants. While their claims may be pertinent in gathering information about the Holy Land Foundation (i.e. how the Muslim Brotherhood had aspirations of influencing American Muslims), how on earth is it probative of what ISNA’s status is—why is CAMERA lending credibility to an unverified claim by the Muslim Brotherhood?
During the 2009 trial against the Holy Land Foundation, ISNA and two other Muslim organizations were named as “unindicted co-conspirators,” but what Mr. Rozenman, as someone who would have followed the case closely, chooses to omit, is the murky legal definition of the term and the fact that federal authorities themselves later regretted publishing the names in what was supposed to be a sealed case. Why? Because they knew that unwarranted stigma of ISNA and other organizations would likely follow if their names as such were made public—which is exactly what happened.
The category of unindicted co-conspirators ISNA fell under was the type that the government lists in order to expand the evidence against the group or person it is indicting but whose identity the government works to keep anonymous because the so-called “unindicted co-conspirator” is thought to be innocent of the alleged crime.
ISNA, which has condemned Hamas and Hezbollah terrorism, cooperated with the government in prosecuting the Holy Land Foundation. It’s also worth noting that in November 2005 the Senate Finance Committee issued a report concluding that ISNA had no ties to terrorists.
CAMERA criticizes Saudi funding, but is all Saudi funding to be condemned in blanket terms? CAMERA appears to be suggesting that any money from any Saudi citizen or group to any citizen or group is tainted. Shouldn’t the source of the funding be determined before blacklisting it? I think that is what Harvard and Georgetown universities did, when they, for example, took donations from a “Saudi source,” in this case a prominent businessman. “Saudi” money has also gone to institutions like the Louvre and to South East Asian victims of the Tsunami.
In regards to one of the individuals CAMERA cites as among the many who have addressed ISNA, Yasir Qadhi did make a Holocaust denial statement in 2000 but recanted in 2010 when he and other imams visited Auschwitz and signed a statement decrying the Holocaust and condemning anti-Semitism.
The American Shtetl
Uriel Heilman’s “The American Shtetl” exemplifies good social reportage. It presents communal facts in straightforward fashion, without evaluation and with no bias. Thank you for this excellent report.
Dr. Leo Shatin
Boca Raton, Fla.
Uriel Heilman’s article on “The American Shtetl” is an informative piece about one aspect of ultra-Orthodox Jewish life in America. However, the term “shtetl” is inappropriate in this context. While it is true that the Yiddish was the lingua franca of both the Eastern European shtetl and towns like New Square and Kiryas Joel, no shtetl was 100 percent Jewish, nor did any of them manage to keep the outside world at bay. Indeed, there is a fundamental difference between the two: The European shtetl was an organic creation of hundreds of years of history where Jews maintained a particular Jewish way of life while still interacting with Christians on a daily basis and incorporating (albeit sometimes slowly and reluctantly) elements of the surrounding society and of secular culture into their lives. The Hasidic towns in the United States are artificial creations engineered to isolate their residents from all outside influences and to keep them, as far as possible, from interacting with any others outside their own communities.
Lokey Associate Professor of Judaic Studies, Portland State University
Much of American Jewry came from Eastern Europe to escape the constraints of shtetl life. Among the many was my father. Has common sense been abandoned in exchange for poverty and self-imposed righteousness?