Avi Baumol

Tad Taube: A Patron of the Revival of Jewish Life in Poland

Tad2Tad Taube is a larger-than-life personality. His life is the stuff of legends — born in Krakow in 1931 and escaping just weeks before the outbreak of the war to the US, he went on the build an empire in the Bay Area, in real estate and entrepreneurial ventures that made him a very wealthy man. He is well respected by Jews and non-Jews alike, politicians and spiritual leaders.

After amassing his life fortune over the last 50 years, Tad signed the Giving Pledge, committing to give away most of his wealth during his lifetime. Tad wants to “share opportunity” by enabling organizations and individuals to aspire to make the world a better place.

Giving_Pledge_Eugene-ChrinianHis philanthropy transcends religious lines, denominational boundaries, and international borders, and he continues to inspire others to join him in giving to those in need. Some of the major gifts over the past years include:

  • Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerusalem
  • Campus Beit Hatfutsot, Museum of the Jewish People
  • Koret Israel Economic Development Fund
  • POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
  • Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute
  • Jewish Culture Festival, Krakow
  • Taube Center for Jewish Studies, Stanford Universit
  • Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, University of California, Berkeley
  • Bay Area Jewish Community Centers
  • Jewish Family & Children’s Services of San Francisco
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco
  • UC Theatre Taube Family Music Hall
  • Ronald McDonald House at Stanford
  • California Academy of Sciences

Taube poland revivalTad’s grant making has a special focus on a land that was almost forsaken by the Jewish world. Poland, where Jewish life thrived for close to one thousand years, came to a crashing near-end in 1945 when 90% of the 3.5 million Jews were annihilated by the Nazis and their evil collaborators. One would expect Jewish life to end in this seemingly cursed land; yet, after Communism was removed and a democratic Polish Government returned, Jews began to come out of hiding and return to their synagogues and to rebuild Jewish communities.

tad SchuWith the impetus of support from Ronald Lauder and the hiring of Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, major cities like Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw, and Lodz have seen a revival of Jewish life. This revival, however, required resources; hiring rabbis, renovating synagogues, funding festivals, and helping to create museums, archives and institutes for Judaism all required not only a check from abroad, but also an infrastructure to guide this process to its fruition.

Tad with friendsTad Taube saw the beginnings of this revival and considered it his obligation as a Polish Jew to actively support Jewish life in Poland. He established the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture’s Jewish Heritage Initiative In Poland (JHIP) with his right-hand Executive Director Shana Penn at its helm, to invest in Polish Jews—to invest in people, in Jewish life, in rabbis and in non-Jewish initiatives to preserve and commemorate Jewish heritage in Poland. There is almost no Jewish organization in Poland that Tad has not supported.

The JCC Krakow has been the beneficiary of this generosity not only in terms of funding but, perhaps even more importantly, in terms of community building, strategic planning, and sending the message to the Jewish world that there are still Jews in Poland and they deserve a chance to have Jewish life once again.

At the most recent Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, where a record 650 Jews came together at the JCC Krakow’s annual Friday night Jewish Culture Festival Shabbat Dinner, Tad was given a special honor. Jonathan Ornstein, a close friend and Executive Director of the JCC Krakow, presented Tad with a plaque that read:

Tonight, June 30, 2017 at the 10th Festival Shabbat dinner hosted by the Jewish Community Centre of Krakow, during the 27th Jewish Culture Festival, we, for the first time, honor an attendee. Tad Taube, businessman, philanthropist, and proud son of Krakow is a tireless champion of the rebirth of Jewish life in Poland and one of its key architects in Krakow. Tad is a visionary leader whose vision, coupled with his generosity and kindness, helps guide us as we rebuild Jewish life in his hometown.

We thank Tad for his efforts and are forever in his debt.

tad under chupaTwo days later, Tad would stand, holding the chupa as Jonathan Ornstein and Kasia Leonardi (the JCC’s kosher caterer) would get married in the very courtyard of the JCC that Tad has supported for many years and continues to support as the Jewish community expands and grows in resources and venues.

There are few great patrons of the revival of Jewish life in Krakow in particular and Poland in general, and we at the JCC are proud to have Tad on our side. We wish him years of health and continued support of Jewish life in Poland.

About the Author
Rabbi Avi Baumol is serving the Jewish community of Krakow as it undergoes a revitalization as part of a resurgence of Jewish awareness in Poland. He graduated Yeshiva University and Bernard Revel Graduate School with an MA in Medieval JH. He is a musmach of RIETS and studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shevut. He served as a rabbi in Vancouver British Columbia for five years. Rabbi Baumol is the author of "The Poetry of Prayer" Gefen Publishing, 2010, and author of "Komentarz to Tory" (Polish), a Modern Orthodox Commentary on the Torah. He also co-authored a book on Torah with his daughter, Techelet called 'Torat Bitecha'. As well, he is the Editor of the book of Psalms for The Israel Bible-- In summer 2019 Rabbi Baumol published "In My Grandfather's Footsteps: A Rabbi's Notes from the Frontlines of Poland's Jewish Revival".