NET WORTH: Unknown
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Renaissance Technologies Corporation
JEWISH FUNDING AREAS: Jewish Day Schools, Education
OVERVIEW: David Magerman founded the Kohelet Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based philanthropy that's laser-focused on Jewish day schools in the region. Through the Jewish Day School Collaborative of Greater Philadelphia, Kohelet hopes to create a "Jewish School District." The foundation also runs a fellowship program. While Kohelet's grantmaking focuses on Philadelphia, schools in other regions have received support. The foundation has a strong web presence, a staff and accepts LOIs.
BACKGROUND: David Magerman received a B.S. from University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University. He served as a research scientist at IBM T.J. Watson Research Center. He went on to work at Renaissance Technologies, where he helped design Renaissance’s equities trading system, and ultimately served as the head of production.
FUNDING PROFILE: David Magerman founded the Kohelet Foundation with the intention of trying to find a better and more affordable way to run Jewish day schools. The foundation focuses primarily on Orthodox Jewish day schools in the Philadelphia area, though other institutions in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia and elsewhere have seen support. Magerman is a trustee of Yeshiva University, and the Kohelet Foundation has supported the institution. The foundation gave a multiyear grant to provide scholarships to students from Jewish community day schools.
The bulk of the Kohelet Foundation's funds go to Jewish day schools. Magerman once stated, “Why do the Jewish people survive, and frequently thrive, in almost every era and almost every country we have gone to in exile? The answer is the one constant that Jews have always had throughout time and everywhere we have gone: Torah. If Jews followed Torah, we wouldn’t have any problems.” To that end, Magerman has put a philanthropic bullseye on education, particularly on Jewish day schools in Philadelphia. Magerman's philanthropy created the Kohelet Yeshiva High School, originally founded in 1997 as Stern Hebrew High School. Other Philly-area schools Kohelet supports include Abrams Hebrew Academy, Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, Perelman Jewish Day School and Politz Hebrew Academy.
Kohelet Foundation's grantmaking isn't limited to Philadelphia and its suburbs, however. Part of this broader work involves the Kohelet Fellowships Program, a "two-year Jewish learning experience" which focuses on the parents of Jewish day school students. Fellows study Jewish texts, and participate in community learning events, among other things. Fellows also receive tuition breaks from their schools, funded by the Kohelet Foundation and its partners as a grant to each school. Participating Jewish schools have included Donna Klein Jewish Academy in Boca Raton, The Epstein School in Atlanta, Denver Academy of Torah and The Ramaz School in New York City.
It's worth mentioning that Kohelet also even moved into the blended learning space. In concert with Affordable Jewish Education Project, and The AVI CHAI Foundation, the foundation helped launch a grant program called BOLD Day Schools or Blending Online Learning in Day School. So far, several Jewish day schools have been selected for the BOLD project.
LOOKING FORWARD: David Magerman has been pretty clear about his priorities. Here's one more thing he said: “Mike Bloomberg is doing great stuff in the world. He just doesn’t get that he should be supporting Torah education, not Harlem inner-city education." Expect plenty more money down the line.
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