Michael Steinhardt, a Leader in Jewish Philanthropy, Is Accused of a Pattern of Sexual Harassment

MICHAEL STEINHARDT SHOWING ANTI-ISRAEL, ANTI-BIRTHRIGHT PROTESTERS WHAT HE REALLY THINKS. SOURCE: TWITTER PHOTO CAPTURE.  VIA JNS

MICHAEL STEINHARDT SHOWING ANTI-ISRAEL, ANTI-BIRTHRIGHT PROTESTERS WHAT HE REALLY THINKS. SOURCE: TWITTER PHOTO CAPTURE. VIA JNS

Michael Steinhardt, a Leader in Jewish Philanthropy, Is Accused of a Pattern of Sexual Harassment

By Hannah Dreyfus for ProPublica and Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

Sheila Katz was a young executive at Hillel International, the Jewish college outreach organization, when she was sent to visit the philanthropist Michael H. Steinhardt, a New York billionaire. He had once been a major donor, and her goal was to persuade him to increase his support. But in their first encounter, he asked her repeatedly if she wanted to have sex with him, she said.

Deborah Mohile Goldberg worked for Birthright Israel, a nonprofit co-founded by Steinhardt, when he asked her if she and a female colleague would like to join him in a threesome, she said.

Natalie Goldfein, an officer at a small nonprofit that Steinhardt had helped establish, said he suggested in a meeting that they have babies together.

Steinhardt, 78, a retired hedge fund founder, is among an elite cadre of donors who bankroll some of the country’s most prestigious Jewish nonprofits. His foundations have given at least $127 million to charitable causes since 2003, public filings show.

But for more than two decades, that generosity has come at a price. Six women said in interviews with The New York Times and ProPublica, and one said in a lawsuit, that Steinhardt asked them to have sex with him, or made sexual requests of them, while they were relying on or seeking his support. He also regularly made comments to women about their bodies and their fertility, according to the seven women and 16 other people who said they were present when Steinhardt made such comments.