Michael Reidler


Growing up in Englewood, N.J., Reidler thought he would become a surgeon because he “wanted to help people.”

Then, while studying in Israel a decade ago, he volunteered on a summer program at a children’s home (an orphanage that accepts children unable to live with their families), serving as “a friend” for at-risk kids and helping them “break the cycle of distress.”

Inspired by his work, he decided to study finance at NYU) so he could pay for his vision of summer camp programs at “every children’s home in Israel,” giving a spiritual boost to “the most-vulnerable members of the society.”

The result is Kol HaNearim (Voice of the Youth), a humanitarian organization he helped to develop eight years ago with college student volunteers Ezra Gontownik and Sarah Struhl. Each year Reidler and a handful of volunteers interview high school students who apply to serve for a month at foster homes in Israel. The summer schedule includes sports and tours and classes. Otherwise, he said, the kids would have no activities to fill their summer vacations.

Over the years, the number of participating facilities in Israel has grown from one to four; some 350 volunteers have worked with “at least a thousand” young residents of the homes, said Reidler, who works at a hedge fund.

The organization’s budget comes from the $2,900 that each volunteer pays to take part, and from Reidler’s own pocket.

His long-range goal is to expand to “every children’s home in Israel.” His longer-range goal: “to establish a camp at every children’s home in the world.”

“I want to care for every child at risk in the world,” he said.

Sweet role model: The book that had the greatest effect on Reidler is Michael D’Antonio’s 2007 biography of Milton Hershey, the philanthropic founder of the Hershey Chocolate Corp., who, with no children of his own, established the Hershey Industrial School, now known as the Milton Hershey School, a facility for orphaned boys. “That model” of helping youth “has been a big influence in my life,” Reidler said.