Spielberg Foundation Set to Enhance Jewish Life in U.S.

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg has been busy with not one, but two foundations he established in the wake of the immense success of “Schindler’s List.”

The Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, a global project to videotape the testimonies of Holocaust survivors, has gained wide attention and millions of dollars from a range of foundations.

Meanwhile, the Righteous Persons Foundation has been cloaked in near anonymity since it began operating last fall. Despite the foundation’s low visibility, it already has received more than 1,000 proposals.

This foundation is supported entirely by Spielberg’s personal profits from “Schindler’s List.” Spielberg declined to state how much the Righteous Persons Foundation can give away. However, sources in the entertainment industry estimate the amount as between $30 million and $40 million.

Because Spielberg plans to distribute the entire principal in five years, the foundation will likely give away about $7 million a year.

A three-person foundation staff has been at work since October evaluating Jewish needs and causes and setting up general guidelines.

“We are focusing mainly on contemporary Jewish life in the United States, in such areas as social justice, arts, education and areas of broad impact, for instance, making Jewish life more vibrant on college campuses,” said Rachel Levin, the foundation’s program officer.

A few grants already made included one to aid righteous gentiles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, Spielberg said in an interview. For the future, he said, “I’m looking to set up scholarships, set up educational tools to teach about the Holocaust.”

“I want to underwrite sending German children to Israel to learn, and Israeli children to Germany to learn,” he added.

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