Michael H. Steinhardt
Michael H. Steinhardt is a legendary money manager turned philanthropist who is dedicated to creating a renaissance in American Jewish life. After he graduated from the Wharton School of Business in 1960, Mr. Steinhardt began his financial career as a research associate, staff writer and securities analyst. In 1967 he formed his own hedge fund company, Steinhardt Partners L.P., where he made his fortune in one of the most spectacular careers in the history of Wall Street. Mr. Steinhardt has always believed that wealth and financial achievement alone are not sufficient to give full value and meaning to life. At the same time, he has felt growing alarm over the erosion of Jewish life in the Diaspora. In 1995, Michael Steinhardt stunned the financial world by announcing that he would close his lucrative hedge fund to devote his time and fortune to the causes of the Jewish world. Mr. Steinhardt directs his Jewish philanthropic activities through The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life which he chairs. Mr. Steinhardt was the co-founder of Birthright Israel and continues to be a major supporter to this day. Mr. Steinhardt also serves as Co-Chair of the Areivim Philanthropic Group. In addition, Mr. Steinhardt supports the development of Hebrew Language Charter Schools, Hillel at the University of Pennsylvania, New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, the University of Pennsylvania, Tel Aviv University, and the Israel Museum. In 2001, Mr. Steinhardt published his memoirs, No Bull: My Life In and Out of the Markets (John Wiley & Sons, 2001). He and his wife, Judy, are the proud parents of David, Daniel and Sara, and the grandparents of Jacob, Joshua, Kira, Talia, Nathaniel, Theodore, Lila, Eli, Aetien, Aceena, Halean, Aaliyah, and Leo.
Sara Berman is the Vice Chair of the Board of The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life. She is also the Chair of the Board of Directors of Hebrew Public and the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Hebrew Language Academy Charter School in Brooklyn, NY and Harlem Hebrew Language Academy Charter School in Manhattan. From 2004 to 2008, she was a weekly columnist for The New York Sun focusing on raising children in New York City. She has been a regular guest on CBS Morning News and FOX News, as well as a frequent guest lecturer at local schools and community centers throughout the city. Before this, she was the Features Editor and then the News Editor at the Forward, America’s national Jewish newspaper. From 2002 to 2005, Ms. Berman chaired the board of one of the eight centers of the 92nd Street Y, the Makor/Steinhardt Center. She also currently serves on the Boards of the Areivim Philanthropic Group, OneTable: The Shabbat Project, and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. She graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University, where she studied history. Ms. Berman lives in New York City with her six children.
David Steinhardt serves as a Director on the Board of The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life. He is also Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of Natan, a giving circle that inspires young philanthropists to engage actively in Jewish giving by funding innovative projects that shape the Jewish future. A 20-year veteran of the investment management industry, he is also Managing Partner and Portfolio Manager at Wooster Capital Management LP and a Co-Founder and Managing Member of Clarity Capital KCPS Ltd. He has been Director of mBank and an Independent Director of Mackinac Financial Corporation since 2012. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Rabbi David Gedzelman
President & CEO
Rabbi David Gedzelman is President & CEO of The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, which is dedicated to revitalizing Jewish identity through educational and cultural initiatives as well as to advocating for and supporting Hebrew and Jewish literacy among the general population. David has been actively involved in the Foundation’s programs since 1995, when he was recruited to conceive and develop Makor in New York City. As the Founding Creative and Rabbinic Director of Makor, David created and led a cutting-edge venue for New Yorkers in their 20s and 30s, providing innovative arts, cultural and educational programming aimed at engaging an under-involved population in possibilities of Jewish life and meaning.
Rabbi Gedzelman was the lead professional at the Foundation working on the conceptualization, design, and implementation of Hebrew language public charter schools, which the Foundation has played a founding role in supporting since 2007. Rabbi Gedzelman’s passion for the Hebrew language and his deep commitment to inter-group understanding as well as supporting integrated and diverse public schools suited him well for this project which now encompasses a network of nine schools nationwide overseen by Hebrew Public: Charter Schools for Global Citizens, a grantee of the Foundation. David has been a champion of Hebrew fluency and literacy in North America and is a founding member of the World Zionist Organization’s Council on Hebrew Language and Culture in North America.
Rabbi Gedzelman holds a B.A. from Hamilton College, an M.A. from Duke University in Comparative Religion, and Rabbinical Ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He has studied in Israel at the Hebrew University and at the Pardes Institute. He serves on the Boards of Harlem Hebrew Language Academy Charter School, The American Pardes Foundation, Hillel International, One Table: Shabbat Together, The Harlem Minyan, and 70 Faces Media. Rabbi Gedzelman lives in Harlem, New York City, with his wife Judith Turner and their three children, Nomi, Anina and Ziv.
Senior Vice President
Eli Schaap’s focus is on transforming Jewish education through consensus decision-making, action research, and other elements of change organizing. Previously, he worked as a consultant to several national Jewish organizations and also served as the Associate Executive Director of CAJE. Prior to that, he worked for twenty years in the business community. As a volunteer, he founded and served as president of the Partnership Fund for Teaneck, a non-profit devoted to improving Teaneck intergroup relations. Eli received his training in a Ph.D. program in Ecology and Evolution at SUNY at Stony Brook. He has conducted action research and published several articles on the culture of employment, recruitment and retention of Jewish educators, on early childhood Jewish education, and on institutional finances. He has frequently presented his research at the Conference of the Network for Research in Jewish Education. He has also been deeply involved in the development and operation of Hebrew language charter schools and currently serves on the board of Hatikvah International Academy Charter School in East Brunswick, NJ.
Executive Assistant to the President
Linda Lehman earned a Bachelor of Arts Cum Laude from New York University and a Masters in Education from Hunter College. She has 26 years of vast experience working in the non-profit sector.
Daniel Nieciecki is proud to have been helping to support and promote the philanthropic mission of The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life since 2006. His primary focus lies in grants management and corporate governance for the Foundation and its related entities and providing Board-level support to the start-up and operation of Hebrew language charter schools as well as research and analysis. Previously, he served as Records and Archives Analyst at the National Historic Preservation Center for the Girl Scouts of the USA, and then as Administrative Assistant in its Membership Credentials Department. He holds an MA in Interdisciplinary Humanities and Social Thought from New York University and a BA in History from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY.
Yelena Pilosova holds a Bachelor’s in Finance from Tashkent University and a Bachelor’s in Accounting from Queens College. She has worked as an Accountant in a variety of positions in the non-profit and for-profit sectors.
Hilary Schumer is an educator, writer, and aspiring cyclist. Previously, Hilary served as Program Manager for Slingshot, highlighting and supporting Jewish innovation and developing emerging philanthropic leaders in the Jewish community across North America. Before that, she worked at the Jewish Education project, where she created and assessed innovative models of congregational Jewish education. Hilary also spent time as a ghostwriter for a healthcare professional, publishing several magazine articles and managing a blog on sleep disorders. Hilary holds MAs in Jewish Education and Midrash, and a BA in Ancient Judaism from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and earned a BA. in Classical Studies from Columbia University. She serves on the board of Ancient Jew Review and lives in New York City with her husband Nathan and their daughter Sophia.
Senior Foundation Writer and Editor, Contact
Eli holds a B.A. with Honors in English from Cornell University. Prior to joining SFJL, he spent several years working with the Jewish Community in Prague. He has written articles for a variety of publications and published a book, The Great Jewish Cities of Central and Eastern Europe: A Travel Guide and Resource Book to Prague, Warsaw, Cracow and Budapest (Jason Aronson, 1999).