Film director Steven Spielberg established the Righteous Persons Foundation (RPF) in 1994 with the profits he earned from the blockbuster 1993 movie Schindler’s List. Upon donating $53 million to launch his new Foundation, the filmmaker remarked: “The idea to give away the money came before I made the movie. As I said to Sid Sheinberg, my mentor, I could not accept any money from Schindler’s List — if it even made any money. It was blood money, and needed to be put back into the Jewish community.” Spielberg remains RPF’s chairman to this day.
In 2006 Spielberg likewise earmarked for RPF his profits from the 2005 film Munich, designating $5 million in particular for the establishment of a Fund For Coexistence designed to address issues of importance in the U.S. and the Middle East by striving to:
Examples of key Fund For Coexistence projects included:
While RPF’s Fund For Coexistence is no longer active, on occasion the Foundation still provides financial backing for efforts that support the goals which the Fund promoted. Generally, these initiatives are rooted in the false premise that Jews and Muslims are equally guilty of demonstrating intolerance for practitioners of another faith.
Several years after launching the Fund for Coexistence, Spielberg funneled into RPF the profits he earned from yet another film, Lincoln, which hit U.S. theaters in 2012.
Today RPF is dedicated to supporting projects that “build a vibrant, just, and inclusive Jewish community in the United States.” Toward that end, the Foundation directs the majority of its financial resources toward organizations and initiatives that are national in scope and are working to:
The current president of RPF is Gerald Breslauer, who also serves as vice chairman and secretary of the Washington, DC-based organization Communities in Schools, Inc. In addition, Breslauer has been a business manager for such entertainment-industry luminaries as Steven Spielberg and the late Michael Jackson.
RPF’s senior advisor is Margery Tabankin, who has had close ties to such organizations as the Arca Foundation, the Barbra Streisand Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Saul Alinsky‘s Industrial Areas Foundation, the Liberty Hill Foundation, People for the American Way, and the Proteus Fund.
The executive director of RPF, meanwhile, is Rachel Levin, who previously worked on various political and social causes such as the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee and “Reboot,” an effort to build a network of young Jewish people with backgrounds in entertainment, media, technology, literature, politics, social activism, and religion.
From 1994-2013, RPF awarded more than $100 million in grants to organizations whose agendas were consistent with its own. Among the most significant and influential of those recipients were the American Library Association, the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Human Rights Watch, Jewish Funds for Justice, the New Israel Fund, the OneVoice Movement, People for the American Way, and the Tides Center and Tides Foundation.
To view a list of additional noteworthy RPF grantees, click here.
For additional information on RPF, click here.