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A Jewish Giving Pledge?

A Jewish Giving Pledge?

Edgar Bronfman, the funder behind the Samuel Bronfman Foundation (named for his father) last week signed Warren Buffet’s “Giving Pledge” by which he committed to giving away more than half of his wealth to philanthropic causes and charitable organizations, either during his lifetime, or in his will.

Now there are 81 pledgers. 13 Jews, such as Michael Bloomberg and Larry Ellison, were among the original 40 signers of the pledge. They all tend to fit the standard profile of a Jewish billionaire: they give to a range of causes, including Jewish ones.

The obvious question when the Pledge pops up into the news is whether something similar will materialize in the Jewish philanthropic world.

Would a Jewish pledge prioritize giving toJewish causes? What makes a cause Jewish? Some are obvious – Yeshiva University, say – but others may be less so, and to their supporters, no less Jewish for all that. Many philanthropists that support causes from the NAACP to the New York City Philharmonic claim their gifts are a Jewish act.

The possibility of a Jewish giving pledge is a conversation philanthropists are having, said Andres Spokoiny, director of the Jewish Funders Network, a service organization. But the conversation is invariably complicated by the usual questions of definition, he added.

Stay tuned …

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