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17 more billionaires agree to give away their loot – 8 are Jewish

Marc Benioff

17 new signatories to the Giving Pledge, an initiative started in 2010 by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, aimed at getting the world’s billionaires to give away the bulk of their spoils. This bring the total group to 154 members in 16 countries. Gates announced the new additions Wednesday.

Amog the signed the pledge are 8 Jewish billionairs: Salesforce founder Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne (United States); Airbnb co-founders Brian Chesky and Nathan and Elizabeth Blecharczyk (United States); Margaret and Sylvan Adams (Israel); Joe Gebbia (United States); Gary K. Michelson, M.D. (United States); Liz Simons and Mark Heising (United States); Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim (United States).

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Other new pledge members include Saudi business titan Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz AlSaud, Intuit founder Scott Cook and his wife Signe Ostby, and Indian biotech entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw.

The new additions to the Giving Pledge include entrepreneurs and business leaders from a diverse set of backgrounds and sectors, including technology, medicine and biotech, real estate, and dairy farming. They will use their philanthropic resources to support a range of causes, including poverty alleviation, healthcare, education, and environmental protection.


Sylvan Adams - VIMEO


Margaret and Sylvan Adams, Israel

Sylvan Adams, formerly the CEO and shareholder of Iberville Developments, a property development and administration enterprise based in Montreal, Canada, with over 100 projects in several Canadian Provinces and US States. Sylvan is also an accomplished competitive road and track cyclist at the Master’s level, with (as of 2015) 15 Quebec Provincial titles, 6 Canadian National championship titles, 4 Pan American championship titles, 4 Maccabiah Games (Jewish Olympic Games) victories, and two World Champion’s titles.  Margaret and Sylvan are the proud parents of four accomplished adult children: Dr. Sarah (married to Paul Joseph Lukac), Rachel (married to Alex Rincon), Naomi, and Joshua Adams.


Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:

“I grew up in a philanthropic home, where my parents were generous givers early on, when they didn’t have great means; their donations only escalated as my father’s business activities and wealth grew. From my parents’ example, it was natural for me to continue the family tradition of trying to do some good in the world around me.”


Lynne and Marc Benioff, United States

Marc is chairman and CEO of Salesforce, a company he founded in 1999. A pioneer of cloud computing, Benioff founded the company in 1999 with a vision to create a new kind of enterprise software company, with a new technology model based in the cloud, a new pay-as-you-go business model and a new integrated corporate philanthropy model. Under Marc’s leadership, Salesforce has grown from a groundbreaking idea into a Fortune 500 company, the fastest-growing top ten software company in the world and the largest customer relationship management (CRM) company. Through Salesforce’s innovative 1-1-1 model of philanthropy, the company and its philanthropic entities have provided more than $120 million in grants, dedicated 1.4 million hours of volunteer time throughout the world and powered more than 28, 000 nonprofits with Salesforce technology.

Lynne is an independent marketing consultant and philanthropist. In 2015, Lynne was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Presidio Trust by President Barack Obama. Lynne is also on the Board of Directors of Hampton Creek, the Board of Overseers of the University of California San Francisco Foundation, the Board of Directors of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland and the Board of Directors of Common Sense Media. Since 2010, Marc and Lynne have given $250 million to University of California at San Francisco, building UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in both San Francisco and Oakland.


Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:

“We believe that in order for our communities to thrive, it’s imperative that all children have access to world-class healthcare and education systems. Our country is experiencing growing income inequality—disproportionately affecting the outcomes of our nation’s youth. We know that if children do not have the appropriate healthcare and education opportunities by age 5, they will remain at a disadvantage for the rest of their lives. These are the issues that motivate us to fund high-impact projects that help advance the health and education of our nation’s children.”


From left Airbnb founders Joe Gebbia,   Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky  .


Nathan and Elizabeth Blecharczyk, United States

Dr. Elizabeth Morey Blecharczyk is a Clinical Instructor in Pediatrics at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. She works in the department of Neonatal & Developmental Medicine as a Neonatal Hospitalist. Elizabeth received her BA from Wellesley College and her medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency and then a chief residency at Stanford University. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and a member of the Academic Pediatric Association and the Society of Hospital Medicine. Elizabeth currently sits on the Board of Advisors at Tufts University School of Medicine and the Board of Trustees at Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter.

Nathan Blecharczyk is the co-founder and CTO at Airbnb, a trusted community marketplace that connects people with unique accommodations in more than 34, 000 cities and 191 countries. Nathan oversaw the creation of Airbnb’s engineering, data science, and performance marketing teams and currently plays a leading role in the company’s business and product strategy. He became an entrepreneur early on, running a business while he was in high school that sold to clients in more than 20 countries. He earned a degree in Computer Science from Harvard University and held several engineering positions before co-founding Airbnb. As a guest Nathan has stayed in hundreds of homes using Airbnb and he is also a host in San Francisco, where he lives with his family.

Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:
“We are humbled to find ourselves at a young age in an extremely privileged place. We recognize that the world has many real challenges and that we are in a unique position to have significant positive impact. We feel a responsibility to share our good fortune, and we pledge to dedicate the majority of our wealth over time to philanthropy.”


Brian Chesky, United States

Brian is the co-founder and CEO at Airbnb. He drives the company’s vision, strategy and growth as it provides interesting and unique ways for people to travel and changes the lives of its community. Under Brian’s leadership, Airbnb stands at the forefront of the travel industry, and has expanded to over 2, 000, 000 listings in 191 countries. Brian met co-founder Joe Gebbia at theRhode Island School of Design (RISD) where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design.


Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:

“There is a saying that a great trip can set you down a path that doesn’t end when you return. With this pledge, I want to help more kids realize the kind of journey I have had. I want to show them that their dreams are not bounded by what they can see in front of them. Their limits are not so limited. Walt Disney once said, ‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’ I would like to help them dream.”


Joe Gebbia, United States

Joe Gebbia is the co-founder and CPO of Airbnb, serving on the Board of Directors and Executive staff. An entrepreneur from an early age, Airbnb’s groundbreaking service began in his San Francisco apartment and spread to 2, 000, 000 listings in over 191 countries, creating a new economy for thousands of people around the world. He is involved in crafting the company culture, shaping the design aesthetic, and innovating future growth opportunities. Joe has spoken globally about both entrepreneurship and design, and received numerous distinctions such as the Inc 30 under 30 and Fortune 40 under 40. His lifelong appreciation for art and design led him to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he earned dual degrees in Graphic Design and Industrial Design. Joe now serves on the institution’s Board of Trustees

Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:

“I want to devote my resources to bring the moment of instantiation, when someone who has an idea sees it become real, to as many people as I can. It can unlock the understanding that they can make things happen, that they can shape the world around them. I want to enable as many people as possible, especially in underprivileged communities, to experience this magic firsthand.”


Dr Gary Karlin Michelson


Gary K. Michelson, M.D., United States

Born in Philadelphia, Gary K. Michelson attended Temple University and Hahnemann Medical College, with residency in Orthopedic Surgery. Afterward he completed a fellowship in Spinal Surgery at St. Luke’s, in a joint program of Texas Medical Center in association with Baylor University. Disappointed with the very low success rates and unreliability of the spinal surgical procedures at that time, he spent the next 20 years developing new implants, surgical procedures, and the instruments required to carry out those procedures. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011, and the National Academy of Inventors in 2014. In 2008 he was recognized by Paralyzed Veterans of America as the leading research scientist in the area of spine. In 2015 he was awarded the Alfred B. Sabin Humanitarian Award and received the International Achievement Award of B’nai B’rith.

Dr. Michelson founded, funded, continues to fund and direct three private foundations: The Michelson Medical Research Foundation, The Found Animals Foundation (FAF), and Twenty Million Minds (20MM).

Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:
“I have been blessed with three healthy and happy children. For that matter, my wife and I are healthy and happy. Each of these things are gifts, blessings if you will. Yes, life is not fair for I have been given way too much. As for the money it cannot all be for us. It must be purposed to do some good in the world. Perhaps to make life a little less unfair.”


Liz-Simons Mark Heising

Liz Simons and Mark Heising, United States

Liz Simons
Liz Simons is chair of the board of the Heising-Simons Foundation. A former teacher, Liz founded Stretch to Kindergarten, an early childhood education program. She serves on the Leadership Council of Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of The Opportunity Institute and the Clinton Foundation, and on several boards including the Foundation for a Just Society, Math for America, and the advisory council for Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. She also volunteers in writing and literacy programs for children. Liz earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s in education from Stanford University.

Mark Heising
Mark Heising is the Founder and a Managing Director of Medley Partners, an investment firm located in San Francisco, California. His philanthropic interests are primarily in climate change policy as well as the physical sciences. Mark serves on the boards of the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Heising-Simons Foundation. Previously, he worked as a chip design engineer before founding VLSI Cores, which designed and licensed cryptographic integrated circuits. Mark earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s in electrical engineering and computer sciences from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Herbert & Nicole Wertheim photo via


Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim, United States

Dr. Wertheim was a 9th grade high school dropout with dyslexia from a disadvantaged home, a survivor of the Miami Juvenile Detention System for truancy. Today, 60 years later with three doctorates, he is the 2011 Horatio Alger Medal of Distinguished Americans Awardee, the Chairman of the Florida International University (FIU) College of Medicine, Trustee Emeritus (after 30 years of service) to the University, and Honorary Chairman of the University Of Florida College Of Engineering. The invitation to join the Giving Pledge would have been unimaginable many years ago as a young man seeking his future, a true testament to the opportunities that only America can offer.

Dr. Wertheim is a clinician, researcher, educator, entrepreneur and founder of Brain Power Incorporated the world largest manufacturer of ophthalmic instruments and chemicals. He was the first more than 40 years ago to discover the dangers of UV and blue light and incorporate sight saving filters into eyeglass lenses that help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration in millions each year. Dr. Wertheim has been recognized and honored by many organizations and major institutions for his 50 years of medical and scientific leadership and his many discoveries including more than 100 patients and trademarks.

The Wertheims Family’s foundation has funded hundreds of domestic and foreign charities and organizations since its established almost 40 years ago, including major exhibits at Zoo Miami, construction of Vail Colorado Public Radio Station KPRE, The FIU 1000 seat Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Concert and Performing Arts Center and Horticultural Research Conservatory at FIU. The establishment of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and major funding for The Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Florida International University. Their newest project is the $300 million University of Florida collaborative initiative Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and the soon to be completed 100, 000 sq. ft. Herbert Wertheim Laboratory for Engineering Excellence.

Each year Dr. Wertheim and Nicole, along with their two daughters Erica Wertheim Zohar and Vanessa Von Wertheim, both Foundation members, dedicate substantial time and talent to support the Foundation’s awarding and fund raising efforts for more than a hundred scholarships, professorships, financial aid programs including the most recent Million Dollar Horatio Alger Engineering Scholarship Program at the University of Florida.


Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:

“Many of America’s private universities have more than 20 times the endowments of most public institutions of higher learning, and our state legislators are decreasing funding to these public institutions that needs to be made up by private funding. The Wertheim family’s talent, time and energy will be dedicated to The Wertheim Family Foundation’s future efforts to support the endowments of public universities and colleges.”





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