Jewish couple to give away 75 percent of wealth

LOS ANGELES (JTA) – Los Angeles philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad have pledged to distribute 75 percent of their total wealth, currently standing at $5.7 billion, “during and/or after our lifetimes.”

In announcing the pledges last week, Eli Broad joined two of America’s wealthiest philanthropists, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, in their so-called “Giving Pledge, which urges wealthy Americans to donate at least half their fortunes to charitable causes. The couple already has given away more than $2 billion.

Born into a “liberal Jewish household” of Lithuanian immigrants in New York City, Eli Broad, now 77, moved to Los Angeles in 1961, making an initial fortune as a homebuilder, and a second through the financial services giant Sun America. His major impact on Los Angeles has been through his very hands-on support of public schools, the arts and scientific research.

A 2003 study by researcher Gary Tobin found that Jewish mega-donors, those contributing over $10 million each year to charities, apportioned only 6 percent to Jewish causes, including support for Israeli institutions.

According to the Tobin study, the reasons for the modest proportion of big Jewish giving going to Jewish causes include the ever-growing integration of Jewish giving into everything that includes ”repairing the world,” and the timidity of Jewish organizations in developing projects for mega-donations.

In Broad’s case, while he says he believes in supporting Jewish causes, his philanthropic decisions are based on hardheaded business sense.

 “Like venture capitalists, we look for untapped opportunities, and we make strategic investments,” he declared in his annual foundation report. “As investors, we expect a quantifiable return.”

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