By Jacob Berkman, JTA
August 10, 2010
This is what we know so far about the Jewish giving of the Jews who have accepted the Giving Pledge, according to searches of their foundations' 990 tax forms and media reports:
Michael Bloomberg is already one of the world's most generous givers. The mayor of New York City has been ramping up his charity in recent years. His foundation does not yet have 990 forms that show where his money is going, but he is, according to this New York magazine profile, a major donor to New York's Jewish Museum. “Being charitable is an important part of Jewish identity,” Joan Rosenbaum, director of the Jewish Museum, told the magazine. And Michael has been an extraordinarily generous supporter of the museum since 1988.
Eli and Edythe Broad have made their biggest splashes of late in education, and by practically singlehandedly building the art scene in Los Angeles, but they seem to get a bad rap in the Jewish world. Maybe it is because when the foundation gives away anywhere from $60 million to $400 million in a year and only $1 million or so goes to overtly Jewish causes, we feel slighted. But check out foundation’s 990 tax forms and you’ll see a bevy of four- and five-figure gifts to Jewish causes, including the American Jewish Committee, the American Friends of the Israeli Philharmonic, the Anti-Defamation League, and B’nai B’rith. In 2006, the largest Jewish gift was a $100,000 grant to Friends of Israel Arts. But yes, that year he gave more to the United Way than to the UJA-Federation of New York. There seems to be hope for Jewish charities, however, if this 2003 article in the L.A. Jewish Journal is correct. In 2002, the foundation gave away about $2 million of the $360 million it pledged to Jewish causes, but Broad had this to say about his Jewish giving: "If I had only a little to give away, my emphasis would be on Jewish and Israeli causes," he said. "Once you get beyond several hundred thousand dollars, you become a better and more respected citizen if you also give to the Music Center and universities. If I would donate only a million dollars, I would split it between Jewish and general community projects."
Barry Diller and Diane Von Furstenberg's foundation does not yet have any 990 forms available, but the foundation’s website does list a number of Jewish organizations among its grantees: Temple Sholom in New Milford, Conn., The Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side of New York, American Friends of the College of Judea, the ADL, and the United States Holocaust Museum.
Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, gave $500,000 in 2007 to fortify Sderot while on a mission to Israel organized by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Here is a pretty entertaining story about the gift from JWeekly.
Irwin Jacobs, founder of Qualcomm, is one of San Diego’s most generous men, but aside from propping up the San Diego Symphony with a more than $100 million gift last decade, the Jacobs have decided to give the majority of their money away through a donor-advised fund at the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego. Last year, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, he gave the fund $24 million.
George Kaiser, Tulsa billionaire and son of refugees from Nazi Germany, is worth about $9 billion right now and is one of the pillars of the Oklahoma Jewish community, along with a name that should be pretty familiar to Fundermentalist readers, Lynn Schusterman. Kaiser, who gives millions to Tulsa causes – around $100 million in 2007 – also gives to Jewish causes. Among his gifts in 2007 were five-figure gifts to B’nai B’rith, Congregation B’nai Emunah, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and the Jewish Federation Foundation, according to his foundation’s 990 form for 2008.
Lorry Lokey says he wants to die broke or close to it. Among his largest gifts was a $33 million pledge to the American Technion Society. He has also given heavily to the Leo Baeck school in Haifa, one of Israel’s two Reform Jewish schools. He has also given to Ben-Gurion University. He told The Fundermentalist on Wednesday that while he has already pledged away most of his $700 million fortune, he expects to make another few hundred million before he dies and the next 60 or so will go to Israeli education.
Bernie and Millie Marcus, the co-founders of Home Depot, spent some $200 million in building the Aquarium in Atlanta, where he is based. The aquarium and Marcus hosted an evening event at the annual conference of the Jewish Funders Network back in 2008. But if you want more Jewish, the Marcus foundation has a branch dedicated to Jewish giving. There’s not a whole lot on the foundation’s 990 tax form for 2008 going to Jewish causes – aside from a $4 million gift to the Jewish Federation of Atlanta and a $250,000 gift to the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco.
Bernard and Barbro Osher have two foundations, the Bernard Osher Foundation, which gave away more than $100 million to general causes in 2007 – many of them $1 million-plus gifts to universities -- and the Bernard Osher Jewish Philanthropies Foundation, which is run by the Jewish Federation of San Francisco. That foundation gave away $4 million in 2007 to an array of groups ranging from the Jewish Music Festival in San Francisco to the Osher JCC in Marin County. The largest gift that year was a $2 million capital grant paid in shares of Wachovia to Cong. Beth Sholom in San Francisco.
David M. Rubenstein, the billionaire behind the Carlyle group, is perhaps best known for his recent mammoth gifts to the Lincoln Center. But he has given to Jewish causes as well. In 2008, for instance, he pledged $500,000 to help establish a $1.5 million professorship in Jewish studies at the University of North Carolina. But more interestingly, in talking about his philanthropy, he has a knack for bringing up his Jewish identity. Check out this Fundermentalist post for more on that.
Herb and Marion Sandler are another couple that seem to have gotten a bad rap in the Jewish world, perhaps because some do not like their liberal views on Israel. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that the philanthropists behind ProPublica “don’t give Jewish.” But look at their 990 tax form, and the mission of the foundation is, “This foundation made grants in support of the charitable, educational, scientific or religious purposes of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Marin, the Peninsula and Sonoma Counties.” And yes, the foundation gave $94.5 million away in 2007, but of that $65,000 went to the New Israel Fund and $1.3 million to the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco.
Jeff Skoll, a Jewish-born Canadian eBay executive, does not maintain an overtly Jewish philanthropic portfolio. There’s nothing in the $28 million in giving listed in his 990 tax form that suggests any overtly Jewish giving. But Skoll has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations like Common Ground that are working toward better understanding and peace in the Middle East.
Shelby White's late husband Leon Levy was Jewish, and the foundation of which she is the trustee has given seiously to Jewish causes. Most recently, the foundation, which is heavy into archaeology, history and the arts, gave $860,000 to the Center for Jewish History for an archival project. According to its latest 990 form, in 2007 the foundation gave $90,000 to Harvard’s Ashkelon archaeological dig, $220,000 to the Center for Jewish History, $1.3 million to the Harvard Semitic Museum and $3.5 million to the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Sanford Weill, Citibank mogul, is most philanthropically famous for his $250 million gift to Weill Cornell Medical Center. I have not been able to find much about his Jewish giving, but he was honored with the Center for Jewish History’s Emma Lazarus Award during the mid-1990’s, which means he likely has given there, but according to a source at the CJH it has not been for quite some time.