Ira and Ingeborg Rennert

NET WORTH: $4.1 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Founder, The Renco Group

FUNDING AREAS: Jewish Causes, Education, Health

OVERVIEW:  Ira Rennert and his wife Ingeborg move their philanthropy through the ILR Ruth Foundation, which supports the sick and needy, as well as injured soldiers, schools and synagogues.

BACKGROUND: Ira Rennert graduated from Brooklyn College and received his MBA from NYU. Rennert is a multibillionaire who made his money through massive industrial acquisitions made by his private holding company, The Renco Group.

ISSUES:

JEWISH CAUSES: As a philanthropist he is best known for funding Orthodox Jewish causes and rubbing shoulders with Israeli government officials, most notably Benjamin Netanyahu. Inge founded the Women’s Institute for Torah, and is president of the American Friends of the Open University of Israel (while she's not directing the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts). There was controversy as they built their sprawling Hampton estate because neighbors suspected they would use it as a religious retreat or headquarters.

Rennert has given generously to scholarship, religious study, and construction projects in Israel. He is reported to have given an undisclosed sum to Jewish settlers in Jerusalem’s Arab districts, working directly against the urgings of President Obama. He has established or funded educational centers in Israel at Yeshiva University and Bar Ilan University, and gave over 150 Torah scrolls to Israeli communities. He also helped pay for the restoration of Jerusalem’s Western Heritage Wall, and contributed $5 million to the creation and publication of a 20-volume encyclopedia of the Jewish commandments. He is listed as donor to ELEM, an organization providing social services and vocational training to Israel’s at-risk youth.

EDUCATION: Stateside, Rennert is a member and honorary chairman of New York’s orthodox Fifth Avenue Synagogue. His giving history is heavily skewed toward academic chairs and endowments in a range of fields. He donated $5 million to launch the Wiesel Center at Boston University, named for his friend and Nobel Prize winning holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel. He endowed chairs in Jewish studies at Barnard, Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Business at Columbia, and Entrepreneurial Finance at NYU.

LOOKING FORWARD: Expect Rennert to continue steadily supporting his select interest areas, with a strong focus on Jewish causes.

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