Michael Steinhardt, the hedge fund manager turned full-time Jewish philanthropist who spearheaded Birthright Israel, told The Fundermentalist that despite a comment he made at his recent birthday party, he is not retiring as a Jewish philanthropist.
According to an Op-ed written by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in the Jerusalem Post, Steinhardt, who just turned 70, told guests that he would be stepping away from Jewish philanthropy over the next year. But Steinhardt is now saying those comments were misconstrued.
“I would like to clarify a brief comment I made about my future plans at a private gathering to celebrate my birthday that seems to have been misconstrued by some of my friends in the Jewish community,” Steinhardt told The Fundermentalist in a statement. “Let there be no doubt that I remain fully committed, personally and financially, to my various philanthropic pursuits in the Jewish world — including the Steinhardt Foundation, the Areivim Philanthropic Group and Birthright Israel. These are critical priorities for me, and I intend to stand by them in the next few years and beyond.”
Steinahrdt has given away upwards of $100 million to Jewish causes, most of them focused on building Jewish identity and Jewish education.
He might, start to play a smaller role in the operation of his foundation and in several of the projects he has started. In recent years, his daughter Sara Berman, has become a leader in the Hebrew charter school movement, which is the primary focus of Areivim, a fund that Steinhardt set up to help start Jewish charter schools.
“Now, as I suggested at my party, my day-to-day involvement in these groups and programs may wind down over the next few years, and I will likely rely on my trusted family and staff to take a more active leadership role moving forward,” Steinhardt said. “But my commitment to and support for these causes will remain as strong as it ever has been.”