Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

Jeffrey Epstein Donated Half A Million Dollars To Elite Orthodox School

An elite Jewish prep school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side accepted a half million dollar donation from a foundation funded by Jeffrey Epstein.

In February 2008, an Epstein foundation — the C.O.U.Q. Foundation — gave Ramaz $500,000. Epstein pleaded guilty to charges stemming from an investigation into allegations that he solicited sexual favors from minors in June of that year. The Miami Herald first reported the donation.

On Wednesday morning, the Forward emailed a representative for Ramaz asking about the donation. That evening, Ramaz sent an email to its community noting that it had received the donation, but saying that the school was not aware who the original supplier of the foundation’s funds were. (In Jewish philanthropy, anonymous donations are considered virtuous, although non-profit leaders often have knowledge of the donor’s identity.) The school also said that the donation was received in 2007.

“This gift opportunity was brought to Ramaz by a community member and was used to establish an educational program,” the email read. “Over the past twelve years, Ramaz has spent nearly all of the funds to benefit our students.”

The email added that the school’s Board of Trustees convened immediately after being made aware of the provenance of the gift. They said they are changing their donation policies to require more transparency in regard to major gifts, and wrote that Ramaz “will not accept gifts from any organizations without identifying the principal individuals associated with them.”

A representative for Ramaz did not respond to questions emailed yesterday from the Forward about whether the gift carried naming rights of any kind, or whether the school it is aware of receiving donations from any other foundation associated with Epstein, or whether the school has plans to return the donation.

Epstein has used the C.O.U.Q. Foundation to anonymously donate to other educational institutions. The Foundation gave $2.5 million to The Ohio State University in 2007.

In 2017, Epstein donated $50,000 to the UJA-Federation, a major Jewish charity. The Federations has not responded to multiple requests for comment on the donation.

In August and September 2018, the Forward reported that Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Ramaz’s longtime leader and an internationally known rabbi, had been made aware of accusations of child molestation and inappropriate sexual contact of two Ramaz employees. One of the longtime teachers accused of sexual misconduct with students was a friend of Lookstein’s and his tennis partner.

Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.