Jews have always been known for their philanthropy, and not just for Jewish causes. The names of Jewish philanthropists can be seen across centers of education, museums, hospitals and countless non-profit organizations around the world.
There were so many stories of rich Jews giving to worthy causes in 2021 that it was hard for Jewish Business News to pick just 10. But somehow we did.
Here now are the first five of the 10 biggest Jewish philanthropists for 2021. As always, the list is in no particular order.
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In April, philanthropist and long-time Bard supporter George Soros pledged to donate $500 million to Bard College. This was one of the largest single donations ever made to a school.
Bard said that the endowment pledge from Mr. Soros, along with Bard’s matching contributions, would endow the College’s full array of student financial aid, faculty, and programs; enable the College to sustain its mission and to grow its international profile; and begin its endowment drive with $750 million.
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— Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College (@Arendt_Center) December 21, 2021
“This is the most historic moment since the college’s founding in 1860,” said Bard College President Leon Botstein. “When this endowment drive is complete, Bard will have a $1 billion endowment, which will ensure its pioneering mission and its academic excellence for the future.”
In May, billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg donated $150 million for the advancement of studies in the fields of STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, among minorities in advanced education. Bloomberg Philanthropies donated the money to John Hopkins University for the Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative.
The Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative is devoted to addressing historic underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, and preparing a new, more diverse generation of researchers and scholars to assume leadership roles in tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges. The $150 million effort funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies will be endowed to create additional pathways for students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to pursue and receive PhDs in STEM fields.
Billionaire Mark Cuban really wants kids and teens to spend their summer reading. Last summer he helped to promote summer reading challenges.
In a video he recorded for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Mark Cuban said, “Growing up in the South Hills was amazing for me, but do you know what was even more amazing? Every summer, being able to read books about the things I dreamed of. I dreamed of traveling. I dreamed of starting a business.”
In July, entertainment mogul David Geffen donated $150 million to the Yale School of Drama. The money will be used to make the school’s program tuition-free for all of its students. The donation came after David Geffen had already endowed an auditorium for The National Library of Israel (NLI) now under construction.
The David Geffen Auditorium will be located at the new NLI campus which is being built up in the Givat Ram area of Jerusalem. The location is right by the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University which hosts the school’s humanities and social science divisions. It is also just opposite Israel’s government complex where the Knesset and ministry office buildings are located.
Sandor Frankel, The Accidental Philanthropist
What would you do if one day you ended up managing a $5.4 billion charitable estate, and were given carte blanche to leverage this to better the world?
While this may sound like a fairytale, it really happened to Sandor (Sandy) Frankel, a New York attorney who had the opportunity of living out precisely this dream through his famous ultra-wealthy client, Ms. Leona Helmsley. She wasn’t the only client he represented, but definitely she was the most flamboyant – and the wealthiest.
OK, so Frankel didn’t give away his own money. But he did give away Leona Helmsley’s money. Helmsley was born Lena Mindy Rosenthal in New York to Jewish family immigrants from Poland.