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Philanthropist Is Co-Owner of Papers

April 4, 2012
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Lewis Katz

Lewis Katz, one of the new owners of The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com, is a major funder of Jewish causes.

Three Jewish Community Centers in New Jersey, including the ones in Cherry Hill and Margate, are named for his parents, Betty and Milton Katz.

The 70-year-old lawyer and businessman originally from Camden is one of the leaders of the group of six businessmen who this week purchased Philadelphia Media Network -- the parent company of the two newspapers and website -- for a reported $55 million dollars. That total is a fraction of what the papers sold for in 2006.

Katz, who is active in Democratic politics, reportedly was asked by former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell to assemble a team of investors. The group of hedge funds that owned the company had been looking to unload the papers and the website.

Katz, the onetime owner of the New Jersey Nets, has given actively to the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, Congregation Beth El in Voorhees, N.J., and the National Museum of American Jewish History.

"As I reflect on the happiest moments of my life before I vanish, I think about what I want to teach my grandchildren. What does it tell my children and grandchildren that I led a campaign to build a Jewish Community Center?" Katz said in a 2009 article in the Jewish Community Voice, which covers southern New Jersey.

Leon Levy, a Philadelphia businessman long active in the New Jersey federation, said that it's symbolic that a Jewish man is front and center in the purchase of the paper.
"The paper is a very important cog in the city," said Levy. "This is what we do. We do education, we print, we teach and we tell the truth."

Also included in the new ownership is H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, who is not Jewish but has given significantly to Jewish causes, according to a staffer at the Lenfest Media Group, a television marketer. The staffer noted that Lenfest is often mistaken for being Jewish and that he has contributed $500,000 to the National Museum of American Jewish History as well as $650,000 in donations to the American Friends of the Israel Museum. She said he plans to visit the Israel Musuem during his first trip to Israel this month. He has also given in smaller amounts to the American Jewish Commitee and the JCC Macabbi games.

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