Hebrew Academy claims bias after Koret turns down grant

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An open letter to the community accusing the Koret Foundation of “discriminating” against the Hebrew Academy has drawn an angry response from Tad Taube, Koret’s president.

While refusing to discuss exactly why the San Francisco school was denied a grant, Taube denied allegations Rabbi Pinchas Lipner and two school officials insinuated in the widely circulated Feb. 4 e-mail. The charge: The foundation is slighting emigre children.

The allegations “are unfounded, and that’s as far as I want to go. We’re put in the position that ugly things have been said about us. I’m not going to elaborate or give traction to those allegations. I’ll simply suggest that Koret has been fairly active in the Russian emigre community,” said Taube, citing Koret’s dealings with Jewish Vocational Service and Jewish Family and Children’s Services.

Hebrew Academy, a nursery through 12th-grade institution, “apparently had some issues with other charities. Other people have been on the wrong side of their allegations before,” he continued, perhaps referring to Hebrew Academy’s multiple lawsuits against the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.

The letter to foundation Chair Susan Koret, signed by Lipner and school officials Robert Real and Gerald Katzovitz, claims the foundation has never before spurned the Hebrew Academy and is funding every other Jewish day school in the Bay Area.

“We cannot believe that you would discriminate against such a school,” reads the letter, which highlights the struggles the school’s largely emigre student body has overcome.

Taube said Koret has been supporting the Hebrew Academy “on and off” since the 1990s, and given the school “probably something in the six figures” in total. But if school officials think their grant should be automatically approved, he added, they’re mistaken.

“We don’t do entitlements,” he said. “There are literally dozens of agencies we funded last year and the year before that we didn’t fund.”

Multiple calls to Lipner were not returned, though he did fax j. a pair of congratulatory letters penned to him by the Bureau of Jewish Education and JFCS in 1990.

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.