NET WORTH: Unknown
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Berman Enterprises
JEWISH FUNDING AREAS: Education, Youth, Israel Advocacy, Health, Religious, Community Organizations
OVERVIEW: Dennis Berman and his family move their philanthropy through the Dennis Berman Family Foundation. The Bermans through their foundation focus on Jewish causes domestically (mainly in Maryland/D.C., and the New York City area), as well as in Israel. They support the Jewish community from a number of different angles, including education, social services, religious outfits, and even a rare genetic disorder. The Berman Foundation makes grants to a number of different outfits annually, but grant sizes are modest, with many under $10,000 and others even under $1,000. The foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals.
BACKGROUND: The son of a prominent Maryland land developer, Dennis Berman graduated from Cornell University with degrees in electrical engineering and an MBA in finance. He started with his family's business, Berman Enterprises, in the 1970s. Berman's sons and his brother's sons now run the company.
FUNDING PROFILE: The Berman family's philanthropy is laser-focused on Jewish causes in the United States and Israel. Berman's father, Melvin, was a strong proponent of Jewish education. The Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, Maryland, bears his name. The school is the site of the Dennis and Robin Berman Media Center. The Bermans continue to support the school via their foundation. Other education grantees include Yeshiva of Greater Washington, Talmudic University in Florida, and Torah School of Greater Washington. The family has also supported the Chabad Jewish Student Center at University of Maryland, among others. Most of this domestic work is in the Maryland and D.C. area or New York.
Internationally, the family funds a number of outfits that work in Israel or are based there. These include American Friends of Kiryat Chinuch Lebonim, which supports Kiryat Chinuch Lebonim (KCL), whose mission is to "address the needs of those coming from unstable or broken homes;" American Friends of Yeshiva Mean Shearim, which raises money for the educational system of Yeshiva Meah Shearim in Israel; and Ascent of Safed. The Bermans have also supported orphanages in Israel, as well as an outfit that helps burn victims. They've even helped fund a film about Israeli soldiers, and supported the Jerusalem Fellowships, which organizes trips to the sacred city for youth.
The Bermans are also heavily involved with the National Gaucher Foundation in Maryland. Gaucher disease results from a specific enzyme deficiency (glucocerebrosidase) in the body, caused by a genetic mutation received from both parents. Symptoms include anemia, easy bruising and bleeding, and a swollen stomach. The disease has hit the family personally. What's more, while Gaucher can affect anyone, Gaucher disease type 1 is the most common inherited Jewish genetic disease affecting Jews of Ashkenazic descent. The National Gaucher Foundation's three directors are all Bermans.
The family also supports congregations like Beth Sholom Congregation and Congregation Torah V'Emunah. The Bermans fund community and social services outfits like Hebrew Shelterling Home of Greater Washington, Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, and Orthodox Union, an "educational, outreach and social service organization which serves the North American Jewish community."
LOOKING FORWARD: Berman's brother Gary also has smaller foundation which supports the Jewish Community. This is clearly a funder that works for Jewish causes from many angles. What's less clear is if grants will get larger down the line. In a recent tax years, around half a million has gone out the door annually.
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The Dennis Berman Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue of contact but below is an address:
The Dennis Berman Family Foundation Inc.
5410 Edson Ln., Ste. 220
Rockville, MD 20852