In 1995, Michael Steinhardt announced he would retire from his successful hedge fund company, Steinhardt Partners L.P., to devote himself to causes of the Jewish world. It was a move that rocked the financial industry. Yet it stood to reason that, more than 40 years after he jumped into the stock market at age 13, Steinhardt was ready for something new.
That “new” thing turned out to be not so new after all. For Steinhardt had thought about his Jewish heritage all his life. Though not outwardly religious, Steinhardt felt growing alarm at the erosion of Jewish life outside of Israel. Indeed, the same culture in which he had been raised to believe there is more to life than making money was faltering in ways he found untenable.
Thus began Steinhardt’s second odyssey, this one with a mission to revive and strengthen American Jewish life. A key signpost on this journey has been Taglit-Birthright Israel, which sends nearly 40,000 Jewish young adults to Israel each year. For Steinhardt, now more than 15 years down his philanthropic journey, his second career has already eclipsed his first—and more is yet to come.