Michael Steinhardt has been a megadonor to Jewish causes for decades. A recent report by ProPublica and The New York Times shows that, throughout his years of giving, he repeatedly sexually harassed women: allegedly propositioning them for sex; requesting that they have sex with other men; commenting crudely on their physiques; and shaming them for their reproductive choices.
Steinhardt’s behavior has been widely known in the world of elite Jewish fundraising and non-profits, the report contends. In September, the New York Jewish Week reported that Hillel International, the university campus Jewish organization, was investigating complaints against him, and had removed his name from their board of governors on their website.
Here are several news items about Steinhardt from the Forward.
In September 2018, Josh Nathan-Kazis reported that Hillel’s investigation of Steinhardt could upend his role in the Jewish philanthropic world.
In the wake of that news, Forward Opinion editor Batay Ungar-Sargon wrote that “Michael Steinhardt’s Scandal Is All About Jewish Continuity.” She argued that, like the accusations leveled against him, Steinhardt’s philanthropic work — such as his support for Birthright Israel — “reflect[s] an obsession with other people having sex, with other people having babies” — and sullies the ideal of promoting initiatives that encourage Jews to marry Jews.
Alternatively, Jane Eisner, then the editor-in-chief of the Forward, pushed back against that idea. She decried the kind of behavior Steinhardt was accused of, but insisted that “To promote a Jewish future that puts marriage and children at its foundation is not to shun or shame those who choose another path.”
Steinhardt is a co-founder and a major funder of Birthright Israel, which provides Jewish young adults with free trips to Israel. In April 2018, Steinhardt flipped the bird at a group of people protesting the organization’s annual gala.
Steinhardt is a well-known collector of antiquities and ancient art. A gallery in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is named after him, and displays works purchased by him. In January 2018, law enforcement seized millions of dollars worth of antiquities from Steinhardt’s New York home, saying that the items were stolen from their places of origin in Greece and elsewhere.