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Give If You’ve Got It

Which Jewish billionaires are the most philanthropic?

Marc Tracy
March 16, 2011
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.(Bloomie!)
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.(Bloomie!)

Commenter “Richard Marcus” offered a swell suggestion to yesterday’s list of the world’s richest Jews: “Perhaps an interesting follow up article might be, to what degree are these Jewish billionaires using their wealth to embrace or ignore Tikkun Olam. Maybe do it on an ‘Olam-O-Meter’ to show a comparison between wealth and attempt to heal the world.” My doctorate is in blogging, not medicine, so I hesitate to use the Meter itself. But we can certainly look at who the biggest givers were and cross-check it with the biggest grossers.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Philanthropy 50 is the standard; the Slate 60 tracks it pretty well. Business Week’s list is a little different. (All apply only to Americans.) Together, they offer a picture of who is giving what they have.

George Soros and Michael Bloomberg—the Chronicle’s top two givers overall (46th and 30th in wealth, according to Forbes)—come out looking the best. But young Mr. Zuckerberg, the 52nd richest person and tenth biggest giver, represents the Millennials well: $100 million isn’t pocket change even when you’ve already got $13.5 billion. Sheldon Adelson, who makes Business Week’s list, also acquits himself nicely, as do Larry Ellison and Donald Bren.

The rest of you? Show us the love (and Sergey Brin and Larry Page aren’t off the hook just because of Google: Not being evil isn’t the same as doing good).

More to the point, while the 50 richest people in the world have, to be sure, a disproportionately high number of the Jews, the 50 biggest American givers list is positively dominated by Jews. Tikkun olam indeed.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.