Tikvah Fund
165 East 56th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 796-1672
Fax: (646) 514-5915

NET ASSETS (2014):
$163 million


Roger Hertog, Chair/Member
William Kristol, Trustee
Arthur Fried, Trustee
Jay Lefkowitz,
Elliott Abrams, Trustee
Mem Bernstein, Member
Sallai Meridor (not on Tikvah Fund website Board list as of October 2016)
Moshe Koppel (not listed on IRS Form 990 PF, 2014)

The Tikvah Fund describes itself as a “philanthropic foundation and ideas institution committed to supporting the intellectual, religious, and political leaders of the Jewish people and the Jewish State.” Tikvah (a Biblical name which in Hebrew means “hope”) has worked closely with neoconservative think tanks and media outlets as well as many universities to promote conservative ideologies.[1]

Tikvah’s characterization as “politically Zionist, economically free-market oriented, culturally traditional, and theologically open-minded”[2] contrasts with the agenda of its chairman, Roger Hertog, who once said in a speech to the rightist Philanthropy Roundtable: “Unless we populate the humanities with an alternative to the ascendant ideology, conservative ideas about limited government, rule of law, individual liberty and the role of religion will over time lose out.”[3] While the foundation claims to promote “vigorous debate and big arguments,” nearly all of Tikvah’s board members are unabashedly neoconservative.

Tikvah’s ideological affinities with respect to Middle East peace and U.S. foreign policy were on clear display at a September 2016 event at the Hudson Institute, one of the premier U.S. neoconservative think tanks as well as a major Tikvah grantee. The event was held to award Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Hudson’s “Herman Kahn Award” for his “lifetime of service to Israel; his nation’s efforts to combat Islamic radicalism; his stewardship of path-breaking Israeli diplomatic initiatives in Asia, Africa and Latin America; and his transformative leadership of Israel’s thriving, pro-growth economy.” The event included a staged conversation between Tikvah’s Hertog and Netanyahu, who discussed the future of Israel.

Echoing the views of other key neoconservative philanthropic figures like the late Michael Joyce—who once described the work of foundations like Bradley and Olin as being engaged in a “war of ideas”—Hertog emphasizes that conservative foundations must influence the “world of ideas.” To this end, his foundations—which include both Tikvah and the Hertog Foundation—appear to seek to have an impact in two broad areas: academia and advocacy (although Tikvah disavows any role in lobbying or policy advocacy in its tax statements), which roughly figure as “middle-term” and “long-term” investments in Hertog’s vision. “If educational programs are the essential long-term investment,” he once said, “think tanks, small magazines, books and other free-standing institutions are the best middle-term investment, especially if the aim is to develop and disseminate ideas. There are many good think tanks and magazines around the country, both left- and right-of-center. They don’t usually have much overhead either.”[4]

Characterizing the foundation’s impact and uniqueness, Zachary Breiterman, a professor of religion at Syracuse University, writes: “In the world of Jewish philanthropy, the Tikvah Fund is unique in several respects: (1) its deep neoconservative profile (2) its generous assets estimated at $162,924,801, (3) its serious commitment to Jewish thought and philosophy, (4) the sheer variety and incredible ubiquity of the scholarly and popular platforms it finances, (5) the non-transparence in public mission statements and operating strategies, (6) the cynical use of universities that host its institutional life, and (7) the amount of control it seeks to exercise over a narrow and limiting range of intellectual and ideological content.”[5]

Bolstering Breiterman’s claim that the foundation seeks to “control” the output of its grantees, Hertog has argued that he does not favor endowments, saying: “I’m suspicious of support where, once the check is cashed, the donor has little if any influence.” Instead, Hertog seeks to create what he calls “leverage,” arguing: “We look for leverage in almost everything that we do. I don’t mean ‘debt’ in financial terms, but the ability to influence the most important people and places, be they readers of the best books and magazines or the very best students in the very best academic programs.”

“The general strategy is called ‘cream-skimming,’ a term that Hertog learned from [Irving] Kristol,” writes Breiterman, who quotes Hertog: “What it meant to us was trying to attract the very largest customers whose retention would require the least amount of overhead per capita and thereby yield the highest profit margins.” The resultant funding strategy: “Universities and their academic units pay for and provide the facilities, faculty, and students, while the Tikvah Fund and its directors are allowed to establish autonomous institutes within the university in which scholarly content is controlled and leveraged politically, explicitly, or implicitly.”[6]

Tikvah and Iran Policy

Although Tikvak is generally not recognized for its influence on U.S. politics, in 2015-2016 the foundation demonstrated its ability to shape political discourse during the heated debate over negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program.

In February 2015 Michael Doran—a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute—published an article in the Tikvah-funded online magazine Mosaic titled “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy.” The article centered in part on a discussion about Benjamin Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration and a key member of the president’s inner circle, who was recorded telling a group of Democratic Party activists that the administration was seeking a way to “structure a deal” with Iran that wouldn’t “necessarily require legislative action right away.” Doran purported to analyze President Obama’s psychological and ideological motives, arguing that the president suffered from delusions of himself “as a transformational leader, not just in domestic politics but also in the international arena, where, as he believed, he had been elected to reverse the legacy of his predecessor.”[7]

Elliott Abrams quickly followed with a response to Doran for Mosaic titled “What the President Thinks He’s Doing,” which speculated on the ideological roots of Obama’s foreign policy. Although he praised Doran’s essay as a “superb analysis,” Abrams disagreed with Doran regarding the origins of Obama’s foreign policy views. According to Abrams, Obama saw his mission not only as undermining George W. Bush’s foreign policy legacy but even that espoused by his own party’s presidents—Roosevelt, Kennedy and Clinton.[8]

Eric Edelman, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and the Hertog Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, followed up with a flattering response in Mosaic to both Doran and Abrams. “Michael Doran’s long essay in Mosaic, ‘Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,’ and Elliott Abrams’s response to it, ‘What the President Thinks He’s Doing,’ command the attention of anyone seriously interested in the administration’s policies and plans for the Middle East. I agree with Abrams that Doran’s analysis is superb, and that ‘no one has more persuasively explained the connections’ among the various parts of the Iran policy being pursued by the White House.”[9]

Mosaic’s editors also compiled a package on “What They’re Saying about ‘Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy.’”[10] It touted the references and reactions to Doran’s piece in the mainstream media. “In the week-and-a-half since it’s been published, Michael Doran’s “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy” has provoked an extraordinary degree of public debate, from Washington, D.C. to Jerusalem to, perhaps, Tehran.”[11]

Praise for Doran’s insights quickly proliferated in other publications, including from David Horovitz,[12] editor of the Times of Israel, which is owned by American billionaire Seth Klarman; Hudson Institute fellow Walter Russell Meade in The American Interest;[13] David Frum in The Atlantic;[14] Michael Barone in the Washington Examiner[15]; Clifford May in the Washington Times[16]; Max Boot in Commentary.[17]

Two longtime contributors for the Tikvah-associated Tablet, Lee Smith and James Kirchick—both fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies—also endorsed Mosaic’s coverage.[18] Kirchick, writing for the Daily Beast, discussed Doran’s “new, magisterial essay” in an article entitled “Obama’s Party Line: Radical Islam Denial.”[19] Kirchick is a fellow at the Foreign Policy Initiative, a think tank founded by three members of Tikvah’s “faculty”—William Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Dan Senor. Liel Leibowitz, another Tablet columnist, also praised Doran’s essay as being “factually grounded.”[20]

Capping off the Tikvah “echo camber,” in May 2016, Tablet’s Literary Editor David Samuels wrote a profile of Ben Rhodes for the New York Times under the headline “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became a Foreign Policy Guru.”[21]

Media influence

Tikvah’s efforts to influence the Iran policy debate are indicative of the foundation’s efforts to reach beyond academia to influence mainstream discourse through its funding of think tanks, political journals, pundits, and advocacy groups, creating an echo chamber on key issues like negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. (These efforts notwithstanding, Tikvah’s 2014 tax statement states that it does not attempt to “influence any national, state or local legislation.”[22])

The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens, a member of the Tikvah Fund’s War and Statesmanship faculty,[23] is a case in point. Stephens is responsible for the newspaper’s international opinion pages and writes its “Global View” column, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2013.[24] He is also a frequent contributor to Fox News’ the “Journal Editorial Report.” Stephens was previously the editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post. In addition to Stephens’ “faculty” role at Tikvah, the foundation has hosted him as a guest speaker.

In 2010, Stephens profiled Roger Hertog for Philanthropy magazine, which is published by the Philanthropy Roundtable. The piece, entitled “The Business of Big Ideas,” was a hagiography of the beneficiaries of Hertog’s charitable funding. Stephens wrote that “through the Tikvah Fund—a foundation created by his late business partner, Zalman Bernstein, and chaired today by Hertog—he has also given money to an astonishingly wide array of Jewish causes, a law center at New York University, a summer program at Princeton University, and the Shalem Center, an influential think tank in Jerusalem.”[25]

When he published his 2014 book America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder (Sentinel), Stevens revealed Tikvah’s prominent role in the book’s genesis, marketing, and content. In the book’s acknowledgements, Stephens writes, “In the beginning there was an idea: a book about the future of Israel. To help me think it through, Roger Hertog convened a panel of experts. They quickly helped me realize that what I had in mind would be the wrong book, at the wrong time, by the wrong guy. Right on all counts. I thank Elliott Abrams, Bill Kristol, Neal Kozodoy, Eric Cohen, Suzanne Garment, and Roger himself for steering me away from the shoals.” Stephens notes that his two research assistants also “came my way thanks to the Tikvah Fund.” [26]

Shortly before America in Retreat was released, Stephens gave a presentation at the Tikvah Fund (available on Youtube) where, as one observer writes, he “offered the audience three key insights” regarding U.S. policy on Israel:

1) Withdrawal is like salted peanuts. Once you experience it, it’s hard to know when to stop.

2) Biblical prophecy predicting the return of the Jews to the Holy Land is an important argument against territorial concessions by Israel to a future Palestinian state.

3) Jewish Americans must do everything they can to ensure Israel’s security.[27]

“The World of Ideas”

The key Tikvah focus area is the “world of ideas,” including academia and publishing. Tikvah’s 2014 tax statement says that its primary activity is “Publishing and education programs aimed at fostering and enhancing Jewish culture, religion, history, economics, law, social policy and other publishing projects and related activities.”[28]

The foundation supports numerous publications, including: Mosaic[29] (formerly Jewish Ideas Daily[30]), an online magazine dedicated to “advancing Jewish thought” but whose articles, essays, and “specially solicited comments by experts” are predominantly neoconservative; The Jewish Review of Books;[31] Hashiloach, a Hebrew language “bi-monthly collection of long-form quality essays on different policy issues”;[32] and Mida, a right-of-center Hebrew language “news and intellectual website which aims to present the public with information and opinions not common in the Israeli media.”[33] Tikvah also sponsors The Library of Jewish Ideas, published by the Princeton University Press,[34] and provides funding for the University of Toronto’s annual Journal of Jewish Thought.[35]

Mida’s founding editor, Ran Baratz—director of the Tikvah Fund’s political thought, economics and strategy program[36]—was tapped to become Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top media advisor and chief spokesman in November 2015. However, the appointment was suspended after revelations emerged that Baratz had used Mida and Facebook to insult Israel’s president and defense minister and that he had branded U.S. President Barak Obama an “anti-Semite.”[37]

Through its support of the Shalem Center, a neoconservative-aligned research institute in Israel that has also received funding from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Tikvah was “a significant donor” supporting the publication of two now-defunct Shalem journals: Azure: Ideas for the Jewish Nation[38] and Hebraic Political Studies, a peer-reviewed publication evaluating the contribution of Jewish sources to modern political theory. Among the Shalem Center’s best known Fellows have been former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. (2009-2013) Michael Oren, currently a member of the Israeli Knesset from the Kulanu party, and Jewish Agency chair Natan Sharansky, the co-founder of One Jerusalem who first gained international preeminence as a Soviet refusenik.[39]

In 2013, the Shalem Center became Shalem College, recognized as a degree-granting college by Israel’s Council for Higher Education,[40] with Martin Kramer as its president. Kramer, who has been an outspoken critic of how Middle East Studies are taught in U.S. universities,[41] writes frequently for Tikvah publications like Mosaic.[42]

Shalem continues to be the single largest recipient of Tikvah funds. In 2014, the New York-based Shalem Foundation received more than $3 million from Tikvah.[43]

Tikvah supports a host of other Israeli acdemic institutions. In 2014, the foundation provided project funding to Technion ($30,000) and Bar Ilan University ($20,000). It also provided funding to several college programs in the West Bank settlements, including El Haprat in Kfar Adumim ($446,833), the Ein Prat Leadership Academy ($216,661) in Binyamin, (which publishes Mida),[44] and Herzog College in Alon Shevut ($71,675).

The foundation seeks out potential young leaders of the Jewish community and recruits them for programs such as the Tikvah Summer Institute for High School Students and the Tikvah Fellowship.[45] Describing speakers at Tikvah’s programs for Israeli students, an academic blogger named Charles H. Manekin (pen name “Jerry Haber”) wrote in 2011: “The line-up of speakers reads like a veritable who’s who of Israeli neocon and to the right, with the occasional liberal hawk on board for decoration.”[46]

U.S. and Canadian academic institutions have also been a Tikvah target. According to Zachary Braiterman, the Tikvah Fund is “a veritable micro-cosmos” encompassing autonomous scholarly institutes hosted at major universities. Tikvah provides universities with “faculty fellowship sponsorships, named lectureships, faculty working groups, summer seminars and programs for graduate students, undergraduates, high-school students, as well as rabbis.”[47]    

Tikvah Leaderhsip

Tikvah’s Executive Director is Eric Cohen, an author whose work has focused on genetics and technology. Cohen has also been a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, an organization that was founded by neoconservatives to promote an increased role of religion in public policy and turn back the influence of secularism.

The foundation’s Chair is Roger Hertog, the former business partner of Tikvah founder Sanford C. Bernstein and co-founder of Alliance Bernstein. Hertog is also a board member and Chairman Emeritus of the Manhattan Institute (currently chaired by Paul Singer); and an emeritus board member of the Washington Institute (WINEP). Hertog has served on the boards of the American Enterprise Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations, journalistic ventures such as Commentary and National Affairs.

Hertog has his own foundation, the Hertog Foundation, whose net assets totaled just over $32 million at the end of 2015. According to Inside Philanthropy’s Guide to the Top Funders in the Financial Industry, the Hertog Foundation has been donating about $10 million annually to further conservative policy issues, arts and culture, education and Jewish causes, including the now-defunct New York Sun.[48]

Unlike high profile pro-Israel donors such as Sheldon Adelson, who flaunts the primacy of Israel in his funding agenda, Hertog tends to be lower key, even if the programs he funds are often quite high-brow, like Yale’s Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy. His foundation runs educational programs for students in areas such as politics, war, and economics, after contributions to a wide variety of philanthropic organizations such as museums and hospitals, educational foundations. “Roger thinks of philanthropic endeavors as investments,” says Norman Podhoretz, the legendary former Commentary editor and longtime friend of Hertog. “The return he expects is long range.”[49]

Others serving on the Tikvah’s board as of October 2016 were: Wiliam Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Mem Bernstein, Arthur Fried, Moshe Koppel, and Jay Lefkowitz.

Tikvah maintains a list of “Visiting Faculty and Speakers,” who “deliver lectures and run workshops” at Tikvah-supported academic programs, and has “core faculty members who reside at the Tikvah Center for weeks at a time.” Tikvah faculty as of 2016 included Hertog, Kristol, foundation board members Elliott Abrams and Jay Lefkowitz, as well as a long list of prominent neoconservative policy advisers from the Reagan and Bush administrations.[50] Most of these individuals have maintained multiple affiliations with think tanks, like the Hudson Institute, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), the Project for the New American Century, the Gatestone Institute, and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). Other “faculty” members have included John Bolton, Max Boot, Michael Doran, Eric Edelman, Douglas Feith, Robert Kagan, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Joshua Muravchik, Norman Podhoretz, and Paul Wolfowitz.

Another member of Tikvah’s visiting faculty, who is identified as a member of Tikvah’s board in IRS tax documents, although not on the Tikvah website’s list of board members, is Sallai Meridor, Israeli Ambassador to the United States from 2005-2009. Meridor was Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel between 1999 and 2005, and is International Chair of the Jerusalem Foundation.[51]


The late Sanford C. Bernstein, founder of a private investment and wealth management firm that bears his name, founded the Tikvah Fund in 1992 as “a philanthropic foundation and ideas institution committed to supporting the intellectual, religious, and political leaders of the Jewish people and the Jewish State.” Its “animating mission” and “guiding spirit” are the advancement and flourishing of “Jewish excellence.”[52] Bernstein was also an active political funder. During the period 1989-1998, all of his political donations went to Republican candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.[53]

Tikvah was the first and smallest of three distinct foundations to which Bernstein eventually gave most of his fortune, with the intent of nurturing Jewish ideals and sustaining Jewish practice. Tikvah was “the smallest but perhaps the most influential because it focused, under the direction of Roger Hertog (a business associate of Bernstein and himself a savvy philanthropist), on advancing intellectual excellence within traditional Judaism and bringing this wisdom to Jewish leaders.”[54]

When Bernstein died in 1999, his firm managed $80 billion in stock and bonds for individual investors and institutions. In October 2002, Bernstein’s firm was acquired by Alliance Capital, the two merging into AllianceBernstein, which would become AB in 2015.[55] The Weekly Standard’s William Kristol has been a Director of AllianceBernstein since 1994 and is a Director of various Sanford C. Bernstein funds within AB, including its International Portfolio.[56]

Assets and Disbursement of Funding

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Tikvah Fund is classified by the IRA as an educational organization whose purpose is to provide scholarships, student financial aid services, and awards. Tikvah’s net assets totaled over $163 million at the end of 2014.[57] The fair market value of Tikvah’s assets not used or held for use directly in carrying out charitable purposes totaled 102,255,040. Tikvah’s average monthly cash balance was just over $10 million, of which less than a quarter ($2,395,595) was deemed to be held for charitable activities.[58]

In 2014, Tikvah’s Executive Director Eric Cohen received $365,000 in salary plus benefits. Cohen had received a thirty-year secured loan in 2010 from Tikvah in the amount of $883,850 at an interest rate of 3.87 percent, to be repaid in monthly payments.[59] This was well below the average rate for mortgage loans, which were at an all time low at the time.[60] Neal Kozodoy, the former chief editor of Commentary (1995-2009), who is now editor of Tikvah’s online magazine Mosaic, received a salary of $250,000 plus benefits. Tikvah’s Director of Israel Programs, Nathan Laufer, received $217,039 plus benefits. Mark Gottlieb, Tikvah’s Senior Director and the Dean of the Tikvah Summer Institute at Yale, received $156,728, plus an expense account of nearly $80,000 in addition to benefits.[61]

In its IRS annual filing, the Tikvah Fund states that it does not engage in lobbying, and that it does not attempt to “influence any national, state or local legislation.” It also says it does not provide funding “for any purpose other than religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes.”[62]

[1] Right Web would like to acknowledge the assistance it received from Marsha B. Cohen in producing this profile.

[2] Tikvah website,

[3] Cited in Zachary Braiterman, “Conservative Money and Jewish Studies: Investigating the Tikvah Fund,” ZEEK, September 6, 2011. Also available at

[4] See:

[5] Zachary Braiterman, “Conservative Money and Jewish Studies: Investigating the Tikvah Fund,” ZEEK, September 6, 2011,

[6] Zachary Braiterman, “Conservative Money and Jewish Studies: Investigating the Tikvah Fund,” ZEEK, September 6, 2011,

[7] Michael Doran, Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy, Mosaic,





[12] David Horovitz, Who to Believe on Iran: Obama or Netanyahu? Times of Israel, Feb. 9, 2015.

[13] Walter Russell Meade, Why the White House is Getting Lonelier on Iran, The American Interest, Feb. 6, 2015.

[14] David Frum, Why Obama Won’t Talk About Islamic Terrorism, The Atlantic, Feb. 16, 2015.

[15] Michael Barone, Obama’s Quest for a Grand Bargain with Iran Seems Unwise, Washington Examiner, Feb. 12, 2015.

[16] Clifford May, Worse than No Strategy, Washington Times, Feb. 10. 2016.

[17] Max Boot, Imad Mughniyah and Iran’s Covert War, Feb. 3, 2015.




[21] The print version of the was published on May 13 as “Through the Looking Glass with Ben Rhodes.”

[22] IRS Tikvah Fund, ID 13-3676152, Form 990 PF 2014, Part VII-B



[25] Bret Stephens, The Business of Big Ideas, Philanthropy, Fall 2010.

[26] Bret Stephens, America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder, 232-233.

[27] Eli Clifton, “Bret Stephens Dishes Candidly about Jews, Israel, and Withdrawal,” Lobelog, 28 May 2015,

[28] IRS Tikvah Fund, Form 990 PF 2014, Part IX-A.







[35] Canadian Jewish News,

[36] Nati Tucker, Some News Sites Can Forgo the Paywall—in Israel, Too, Haaretz, June 11, 2013.

[37] Lydia O’Connor, The Most Controversial Things Netanyahu’s Suspended Spokesman Has Said, Huffington Post, Nov. 5, 2015.


[39]Shalem College website: History

[40] Talia Nesher, Israel Recognizes Shalem Center as Academic Institution, Despite Initial Criticism, Haaretz, Jan. 3, 2013, Jan 03, 2013.

[41] Joel Beinin, Thought Control for Middle East Studies. Right Web, March 30, 2004.

[42] Mosaic website.

[43] IRS Tikvah Fund, ID 13-3676152, Form 990 PF 2014, Part XV.

[44] Nati Tucker, Some News Sites Can Forgo the Paywall—in Israel, Too, Haaretz, June 11, 2013.

[45] Maya Haber, The Right Wing Tactic All Jewish Leftists Should be Stealing, The Forward, January 24, 2016

[46] Jerry Haber, The Tikvah Fund’s Transparence Problem, Magnes Zionist, Sept. 7, 2011.

[47] Zachary Braiterman, Conservative Money and Jewish Studies: Investigating the Tikvah Fund, Sept. 6, 2011.



[50] Tikvah Fund Faculty.



[53] Open Secrets, Search Sanford C./Zalman Bernstein

[54] Philanthropy Roundtable.

[55] AB website,

[56] Company Overview of Sanford C. Bernstein Fund, Inc. – U.S. Government Short Duration Portfolio. Executive Profile, William Kristol. Bloomberg website.


[58] IRS Tikvah Fund, ID 13-3676152, Form 990 PF, Part X.

[59] IRS Tikvah Fund, ID 13-3676152, Form 990 PF, Part II, Attachment 11.



[62] IRS Tikvah Fund, ID 13-3676152, Form 990 PF 2014, Part VII-B

Tikvah Fund
165 East 56th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 796-1672
Fax: (646) 514-5915

NET ASSETS (2014):
$163 million


Roger Hertog, Chair/Member
William Kristol, Trustee
Arthur Fried, Trustee
Jay Lefkowitz,
Elliott Abrams, Trustee
Mem Bernstein, Member
Sallai Meridor (not on Tikvah Fund website Board list as of October 2016)
Moshe Koppel (not listed on IRS Form 990 PF, 2014)

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