Jeffrey Epstein donated $500,000 to Orthodox NYC high school
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Jeffrey Epstein donated $500,000 to Orthodox NYC high school

Manhattan’s Ramaz School acknowledges 2007 gift, vows to be more careful in accepting major gifts in future

In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, center, sits with attorneys Martin Weinberg, left, and Marc Fernich during his arraignment in New York federal court, July 8, 2019. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, center, sits with attorneys Martin Weinberg, left, and Marc Fernich during his arraignment in New York federal court, July 8, 2019. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

NEW YORK (JTA) — One of Jeffrey Epstein’s private charities donated half a million dollars to the Ramaz School, an Orthodox Jewish high school in New York City.

The foundation also donated to several other Jewish causes.

The Ramaz administration said in an email sent Tuesday evening that Epstein gave it “a significant gift” in 2007. Tax documents for the foundation show that the amount of the donation was $500,000.

“At the time, the source of the foundation’s funding was not made known to the School,” read the email, which was sent from Ramaz’s chairman, Philip Wilner, and head of school, Jonathan Cannon. “However, we very recently learned that the foundation was associated with Jeffrey Epstein, whose unconscionable behavior is widely known.”

Illustrative: The Ramaz School’s Morris and Ida Newman Education Center in New York City (Manhattan Sideways via JTA)

Epstein was arrested and indicted for sex trafficking earlier this month. The financier is accused of having sexually abused dozens of underage girls. A decade ago, he served 13 months in a private wing of a county jail after agreeing to a deal that has since been criticized as an extremely light punishment.

In the email, Ramaz said the donation was used to establish an educational program and that almost all of the money has been spent. The school also said it was committed to implementing measures to ensure greater transparency regarding major gifts, and to identify the major donors associated with foundations before accepting gifts from them.

“We are confident that reviewing and improving our approach will further strengthen our development process, reflecting our commitment to honoring the strong values on which Ramaz is founded,” the email said.

The Ramaz donation came the same year that Epstein gave more than $14 million to the YLK Charitable Fund, one of Leslie Wexner’s charities. The next year, he gave YLK more than $40 million, according to CNBC. Wexner was one of Epstein’s only clients and was his close associate.

Jeffrey Epstein in New York City in 2005. (Neil Rasmus/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images/via JTA)

Wexner said he broke off ties with Epstein 12 years ago, and has said in a statement that he “regretted that my path ever crossed his.”

The year before Epstein went to prison, though, his foundation distributed money to a few Jewish causes. In addition to Ramaz, the foundation’s tax return listed a $50,000 donation to the Aspen Jewish Congregation in Colorado, as well as $5,000 to the National Council of Jewish Women.

The last donation the foundation appears to have given went to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. That donation, made in March 2011, was the only one made that year and also was for $50,000. According to tax documents, it represented 86.1 percent of Epstein’s COUQ foundation’s net assets that fiscal year. The foundation shut down the next year.

NBC News has reported on charities that said they did not receive the donations Epstein has claimed to have made.

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