Adam Milstein is an Israeli American businessman and philanthropist. He came to the United States in 1981 in search of higher education and soon became a successful real estate entrepreneur. Adam is a founder of Hagar Pacific Properties and has spent over 35 years in the real estate industry, but his strong passions also led him somewhere else – philanthropy.
Adam Milstein was listed as one of the 200 most influential philanthropists in the world in Richtopia’s recent list, included among cultural icons like Elon Musk and Bill Gates. He spends a majority of his time working in philanthropy, either as the National Chairman of the Israeli American Council that he helped found or his own Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation. Since its inception in 2000 the foundation has supported over 200 Jewish and Israeli causes and organizations.
When it comes to philanthropy, Adam Milstein is well versed. He explains why philanthropy is the key to protecting and promoting the Jewish identity in America today.
By Supporting Social Systems
In his recent article in the Jerusalem Post, Adam Milstein lays out why philanthropy is a crucial part of the Jewish community in the United States – “American Jewry has fostered a strong culture of philanthropy. They understand that Jewish institutions will only exist if they support them financially, and as a result, wide swaths of the community give to synagogues, Jewish schools, and other organizations.” In Israel, this isn’t necessary because the government is able to provide most social services to its citizens. That’s not the case in the United States.
When Israeli Americans settled in United States, they had to learn to give freely to support the schools, synagogues, and organizations that they wanted to see thrive and grow in their communities. Without a culture of philanthropy and generous donors for these learning institutions, the Jewish identity in America wouldn’t have the presence it has today.
The Israeli-American Council, which Adam Milstein founded in 2007, contributes to Israeli American causes by requiring every member of the council to donated to Jewish organization. This has allowed many different charities and foundations to flourish and to support the growth of the Israeli American community across the country.
By Building Bridges in the Community
Philanthropy is essential to preserving and protecting Jewish identity in the United States because it connects people from all religions and backgrounds through a common cause, and builds bridges where there were none before – “American Jewry has successfully built bridges to other communities around common issues – from human rights and social justice to education and business.”
By Connecting Jewish Youth to Their Ancestral Roots
The Jewish youth are disconnecting from their ancestral roots and identity, and Adam Milstein believes that active philanthropy is the way to bring them back. In his article about the search for low-hanging fruit, Adam shared these staggering statistics to make his point – “The now infamous Pew Study ‘A Portrait of Jewish Americans’ found that approximately two-thirds of American Jewish millennials report that they do not feel a strong connection to Israel. In a recent study published by Brandeis University, fewer than half of Jewish college students could correctly answer even the most basic questions about the Jewish state.”
It’s clear that the Jewish community needs to do something to help preserve their identity, and philanthropic efforts is one of the moving parts. The Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation aims to invest in Jewish organizations that can make a difference. They believe that, “by increasing the Jewish knowledge and connection to Israel among the young generation, we can not only impact these individuals but also their children and grandchildren.” That’s why they have used their foundation and generous donations from the community to send over 1,000 students to Israel over the years.
Adam’s foundation provides opportunities to Jewish youth and families who want to connect with their cultural roots, but do not have the resources to do so. He explains that the Israeli American Council has changed that, and that, “many young Jewish Americans are attracted to the IAC activities to absorb Israeliness and pride in their Jewish roots.”
Protecting and promoting the Jewish identity through philanthropy is a passion of Adam Milstein. It is a way to help the Jewish community flourish. Today approximately 60% of American Jews have a college degree, and despite only being 2% of the US population, Jews make up almost 25% of Ivy League undergraduates. On top of that, Jews make up 37% of American Nobel Prize winners. This rich culture is growing stronger as a result of the efforts made by Adam Milstein and the many other Jewish activists and donors who support the community.