When one considers the way philanthropic endeavors are typically thought of; the bureaucratic tape is what comes to mind. There are the formalities of course. Those that are seeking self aggrandizement as an objective of their giving. The names of givers ensconced on the front of buildings of all sorts – be it academic institutions; religious places of worship or hospitals and medical centers. To be clear, I don’t at all begrudge those that appreciate promoting their philanthropic giving. In fact, to whatever extent anybody can help society through their financial means, no matter their motive, they ought to be commended and thanked for their noble generosity.
Shlomo Rechnitz on the other hand, has completely changed this paradigm. Rechnitz’s giving has consistently occurred behind closed doors; with stories of his generosity becoming legendary in his hometown of Los Angeles and beyond. It’s well known in his community, that on Saturday evenings people of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities and creeds, are welcome to come to his home and share their own personal predicaments with him and what they need in order to get them through the turbulent and challenging times they are going through.
In this way alone, Rechnitz is a trailblazer of philanthropy distinguishing himself from nearly all other prominent philanthropists. While cutting a check alone is certainly admirable and in some cases easiest, Rechnitz goes out of his way to invest the time and energy to learn of people’s plights and to do his best to provide for them in a way that will not only benefit them in the short-term, but also in the long-term.
There are literally hundreds of stories of people from all walks of life, who have approached Rechnitz organically – standing in the long lines outside of his home on Saturday nights, and had their lives entirely transformed due to his generous spirit and giving.
Then there’s of course his and his wife’s giving through their foundation. The sheer volume of institutions, nonprofit organizations and social service networks that are the beneficiaries of Shlomo’s largesse and generosity are innumerable. But it’s the sheer diversity of those organization’s missions that is truly overwhelming. Whether it’s the foundation’s giving to help recently incarcerated populations trying to matriculate back into society; or helping children with special needs get uplifted, the diverse nature of the missions of the institutions the foundation backs is a testament to the thoughtfulness its principals exhibit in disbursing their funds.
And of course, there are less than handful of stories that have surfaced in the media against Rechnitz’s own wishes, that showcase how innovative and generous his giving can be. One example, which struck a chord with people around the United States and the globe, was video footage of Rechnitz buying 400 servicemen warm lunches during a stopover in Shannon, Ireland. As he said while speaking to them, it’s the least he could do to thank them for all they do defending our nation.
Rechnitz performed this act of generosity on a stopover on his way to Israel with his family. This story is the perfect illustration of how Shlomo’s philanthropy is truly distinguishable from those of the masses – it’s a part of his being; something that is innate to who he is. He need not be solicited. On the contrary, he consistently seeks out opportunities to help the less fortunate on his own. As we see so many different industries experiencing change – it’s good to know that the world of philanthropy has also been subject to a constructive change. Thank you, Shlomo Rechnitz.