Donald Sterling Cash Puts Jewish Non-Profits in Bind

Charities Between Rock and Hard Place After Scandal

getty images

By Uri Heilman

Published May 06, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

When Donald Sterling’s racist rant hit the news last week, you could practically hear the jostling at the microphone by those eager to denounce the Los Angeles Clippers owner.

For the beneficiaries of Sterling’s largesse, the denunciations took on a special imperative as a means of distancing themselves from his views.

Several Jewish organizations have taken Sterling’s money, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. The L.A. Jewish Journal listed 11 Jewish groups that have received money in recent years from the Donald T. Sterling Foundation.

“Last year we took the $10,000 from him,” Jay Sanderson, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, told JTA. “We’re not going to take it anymore.”

Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center made a similar remark to the Jewish Journal.

The strongest statement came from the NBA, which banned Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and now is seeking to force him to sell the Clippers.

Sterling’s foundation has given relatively modest amounts to Jewish groups in recent years given his great wealth. According to the Jewish Journal, 10 of the Jewish groups received gifts of $10,000, some for several years running. Sterling, who is Jewish, also gave $50,000 to Yeshiva Gedolah of Los Angeles in 2010.

Whatever the sums, the ethical dilemmas facing nonprofits when confronted with donations from benefactors of ill repute are hardly clear-cut.

Associating with troubled donors can harm an organization’s reputation, and accepting the money may raise questions about its values and priorities.

Conversely, nonprofits are strapped for cash, and if the money is going to a good cause, does turning down money from troubled sources do more harm than good?


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.