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Philanthropists donate $18 million to promote Jewish schools

October 22, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Worried that Jewish culture may disappear in North America, a group of philanthropists and business leaders said Tuesday they will donate $18 million to promote Jewish schools in the United States and Canada.

The group is concerned that Jewish history and culture are being forgotten as Jews assimilate.

Michael Steinhardt, chairman of the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, observed that Jews were once a ``community focused on survival,″ and are now ``challenged with living in freedom.″

Steinhardt, a retired investment banker, says the partnership will actually double the amount of money spent on its endeavor to $36 million by requiring recipients to match the awards.

Steinhardt also named the four schools who will receive $100,000 as this year’s award recipients.

Dana Baruch, director of the Austin Jewish Community Day School in Austin, Texas, said the grant will help broaden the curriculum so more children can attend the school, which now has 20 pupils in kindergarten through second-grade

``There’s a danger of not knowing who we are,″ Baruch said.

Award recipients must match the grant and can only use the money for planning and operation costs, not construction. They cannot use tuition hikes to raise the matching money, said Joshua Elkin, the partnership’s executive director.

There are approximately 700 Jewish day schools in North America, with a total of about 200,000 students, Elkin said.

The other three schools receiving grants were the Columbus Jewish Day School in Columbus, Ohio, which plans to open next year; the Politz Foundation School in Cherry Hill, N.J.; and Mid-Peninsula Jewish Community Day School in Palo Alto, Calif.

In addition to Steinhardt, the other 11 partners who agreed to donate $1.5 million each are: Charles and Edgar Bronfman of Seagram Co.; Henry Taub, chief executive of professional backetball’s New Jersey Nets; Leonard Abramson, founder of U.S. Healthcare; Billie Gold of the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York; Harold Grinspoon, managing partner of Aspen-Metro Properties; Jim Joseph, founder and president of Interland Corp.; Morton Mandel, founder of Premier Industrial Corp.; Charles Schusterman, chairman and CEO of Samson Investment Co.; and Leslie H. Wexner, chairman of The Limited.

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