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Give and Take: Life of a 'Kosher Billionaire'

March 27, 2008 By:
Ben G. Frank, JE Feature
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Stacey Cohen is a billionaire.

She's also a philanthropist, lifestyle guru, actress and author. And while her charities are uppermost in her mind, she notes that just as a business venture seeks return on an investment, philanthropy does to.

"You want to make sure society benefits," says Cohen, who believes that her giving "makes her feel wealthy in her heart."

Modern philanthropy is results-oriented; it seeks answers in a short period, especially concerning such dreaded diseases as AIDS, declares the author, whose latest venture is the fast-selling The Kosher Billionaire's Secret Recipe. In the book, she offers up sumptuous kosher gourmet recipes, menus and wines that have become a regular part of her life -- including spirituality.

She describes that lifestyle as "wondrously healthy and spiritually connected."

Her book is near the top of the Jewish best-sellers on Amazon under the topic "Religion and Spirituality."

While living in California, she was introduced by friends to Mouli Cohen, a high-tech and biotech business tycoon. They married. Mouli, an Israeli, has been very successful; his startups have created more than $3 billion in shareholder value.

In recognition of his ability to generate mega investments in the U.S. economy and alternately create thousands of jobs, Mouli was awarded the first-ever "Millionaire Residency," with full citizenship status provided by President George H.W. Bush.

Stacey Cohen is president and founder of Stacy Cohen Lifestyle Inc., whose mission is to create a healthy, happy and successful life for others. She earned her bachelor's degree in public relations from Southern Methodist University.

Her first novel, The Last Train from Paris, which is loosely based on the real-life adventures of the Spanish painter Joan Miró, is soon to be released.

After undergoing an Orthodox conversion, she took up causes helping others. Not only do she and her husband "live a kosher lifestyle," but they are very involved in tzedakah.

"Altruism -- giving of yourself either materially or emotionally -- can have a profound effect on the heart, both literally and figuratively," she writes in The Kosher Billionaire's Secret Recipe.

"Studies have repeatedly shown that people who volunteer their time or are actively involved in giving may have reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels, may experience a greater sense of personal calm and peace, and may have better interpersonal relationships with those they love."

And "if you want to change the world, start by changing the life of a child," say both Cohens. She supports the Jewish Family and Children's Services in San Francisco, which provides a safe house for abused mothers and their children, as well as delivering kosher meals to homebound seniors and AIDS patients.

She visits Israel at least once a year, and supports groups there and in Russia that enhance Jewish education.

One of the causes she is deeply dedicated to is research into pediatric cancer. A major project is Camp Okizu (Sioux for "unity"), the largest camp in California designed specifically for kids with cancer and their siblings. The camp's goal for kids is to "enhance their self-esteem and build skills they never thought they would be able to master."

She has joined forces with Indiana University to fund a program that provides treatment for Kenya's HIV/AIDS sufferers and creates local farms able to produce hundreds of tons of produce.

Even though she is a global jet-setter, she still finds a way to maintain a healthy and tasty kosher diet. She stresses what is also commonly known in the consumer world -- that many people who aren't Jewish are starting to enjoy kosher food.

The Cohens enjoy traveling the world on private aircraft, often enjoying luxurious vacation getaways on the Italian Riviera or in Israel, the south of France, or Fiji, Greece or the Far East. But they always return to philanthropy.

You don't have to be a billionaire to do that; you can simply volunteer your time, she notes.

Stacy's parting words: "No matter what charity you donate your time, compassion or resources to, or what level of donation you're able to make, you, too, can give back like a 'kosher billionaire.'

"It just takes a little planning," she insisted, "a hefty dose of fun, a helping of style and a big heart!" 

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