NET WORTH: $1.35 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Baupost Group
JEWISH FUNDING AREAS: Various
OVERVIEW: Seth Klarman and his wife Beth's family foundation held some $604 million in assets in a recent tax year, and gave away around $35 million. Of that $35 million, close to $11 million went to Jewish causes. One of the missions of the Klarman Family Foundation is to support the global Jewish community and the State of Israel. Boston is a major site of philanthropy for the couple. The foundation has a helpful website, but does not accept unsolicited proposals.
BACKGROUND: Klarman grew up in Baltimore and attended Cornell University and Harvard Business School before working at a mutual fund company, then leaving to found the Baupost Group just a few years later. He is known as a very conservative investor, generally holding much more cash in his portfolios than other major investors. He also owns the digital, English-language Israeli newspaper Times of Israel.
FUNDING PROFILE: Seth and Beth Klarman's family foundation is clear in its mission: it "maintains an unwavering commitment to demonstrating Jewish values and supporting the Jewish people and the State of Israel." Supporting Israel in particular is key here: "We believe Israel is essential to the Jewish experience and even to Jewish survival. In an environment of growing anti-Semitism, Israel is the one Jewish state — a historic homeland where every Jew is welcome." Some of the foundation's partnerships include collaborations with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston to reach young adults and leaders, and with the Israel Science Foundation to build connections between Israeli and U.S. scientists.
In a recent tax year, the foundation gave nearly $11 million to various Jewish causes in Boston, nationally, and around the world. Grantees include those in the arts, like American Friends of Keshet Eilon, which supports the Keshet Eilon Music Center and Violin Mastercourse, founded in 1990 at Kibbutz Eilon on Israel’s northern border; Boston Jewish Film Festival; and Friends of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.
The couple via their foundation also work in policy and have funded Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and the The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The Klarmans have directed especially large sums to Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston and Birthright Israel Foundation, as well as The Israel Project, and The David Project. On the education front, the Klarmans have funded organizations like American Friends of Hebrew University, American Friends of the Reut Institute, and Israel on Campus Coalition, which supports and empowers campus leaders.
LOOKING FORWARD: The Klarman Family Foundation's assets have continued to rise. This billionaire couple's commitment to Jewish causes should be watched carefully as it's likely that even more money will go out the door in the coming years. For a look this funder's overall philanthropy, read our Wall Street Profile of Seth Klarman.