The Dorot Foundation is a private foundation that supports left-of-center advocacy in the United States and Israel. It was founded and has been operated by members of the Ungerleider family.
In the early 2010s, trustees involved in the bankruptcy proceedings surrounding the Bernie Madoff investment scandals sued an Ungerleider family-associated fund and major donor to the Dorot Foundation, the Yesod Fund, for profiting from Madoff’s frauds. A court dismissed the claims since the Yesod Fund was not accused of knowing that Madoff engaged in fraud.
The foundation was launched in 1972 by Joy Ungerleider-Myerson. Under her leadership, the Dorot Foundation focused primarily on supporting archaeological research, libraries, museums, and scholarship related to Judaism until her death in 1994.   
After Ungerleider-Myerson’s death, her daughter Jeane Ungerleider became president of the Dorot Foundation and remains so to this day. Under her leadership, the Foundation supports left-of-center advocacy initiatives in the United States and Israel in addition to its traditional academic philanthropy.
Grants and Fellowships
The Dorot Foundation’s highest-profile program is its Dorot Fellowship Initiative. The program funds 12 annual fellowships for American Jews to live and study in Israel. It is operated in conjunction with the left-wing New Israel Fund, but claims it accepts fellows from a wide range of political beliefs. 
Some notable Dorot Fellowship alumni include:
- Jodi Kantor, New York Times editor, correspondent on the 2008 Obama campaign, and author of The Obamas. Kantor shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for her story with Megan Twohey that reported sexual harassment and abuse allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein, which is credited with helping launch the “#MeToo” movement.
- Sacha Litman, McKinsey & Company Global Lead for Education, Public, and Social Sector Analytics 
- Jake Marmer, writer at Tablet 
- Michael Rosen, an adjunct fellow specializing in intellectual property issues for the center-right American Enterprise Institute 
- Eric J. Stern: Former co-chair of Obama Pride and National LGBT Leadership Council for Obama 2008 campaign and former director of LGBT Outreach for the Democratic National Committee. 
- Bari Weiss, opinion page staff editor and writer at the New York Times. 
Alliance for Justice Fellowship
In recent years, the Dorot Foundation has expanded its fellowship programs to include a Dorot Law Fellowship at the left-of-center legal policy organization Alliance for Justice. This program provides recent law school graduates with a $42,500 stipend to work in the organization’s Judicial Selection Project, which seeks to promote left-wing and Democratic-appointed judges while defeating conservative and Republican-appointed judges.   
Left-of-Center Jewish Grantmaking
The Dorot Foundation actively supports left-wing organizations involved in Israeli politics and policy. It largely supports groups espousing a “two-state” solution, and it does not support groups active in the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” movement. Its grant recipients include:
The Dorot Foundation supports a variety of organizations that organize the Jewish community in America and other constituencies to support left-wing causes. These include:
- Avodah – The Jewish Service Corps
- Bend the Arc
- Jewish Organizing Initiative/JOIN for Justice
- Union for Reform Judaism “Just Congregations Initiative”
The Dorot Foundation continues to be active in its original scholarly interest areas such as Jewish archaeology, history, museums and libraries. These include the Jewish Museum in New York City, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Dorot Professorship in Judaic Studies at Brown University, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Jewish Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. 
The Dorot Foundation’s largest reported donation as of 2017 was a $30 million unrestricted grant in 2011 to the Foundation for Global Sports Development, where Dorot Foundation vice president Dr. Steven Ungerleider is chairman and CEO. 
In 2016, the Dorot Foundation’s top 15 grant recipients or pledged recipients were:
- Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps ($240,000)
- Jewish Museum (NYC) ($125,000)
- Union for Reform Judaism – Just Congregation Initiative ($125,000)
- Schwartz Center for Compassionate Care ($120,000)
- Urban Adamah ($120,000)
- Hazon ($110,000)
- American Friends of the Israel Museum ($102,500)
- Alliance for Justice ($100,000)
- JOIN for Justice ($100,000)
- American Friends of Heschel Center ($80,000)
- American Friends of Kol Haneshama ($75,000)
- Just Vision ($75,000)
- Bend the Arc ($50,000)
- Immerse NYC ($45,000)
- Jewish Women’s Archive ($42,500)
Madoff Case Connection
Since at least 2001, the Dorot Foundation’s sole source of income, apart from its investment portfolio, was an annual donation in the range of $2 million to $3.4 million from the Yesod Fund, an investment vehicle that allegedly profited from Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. 
Between 2001 and 2014, the Dorot Foundation received a total of $36,055,673 from the Yesod Fund.  The fund was created in 1995 after the death of Joy Ungerleider-Myerson as a charitable lead trust, an estate planning tool that can limit estate and gift tax liability.  Funded by Ungerleider-Myerson’s estate, the Yesod Fund supported the Dorot Foundation with an annual donation for 20 years. The ultimate beneficiaries of its principal were Ungerleider family members, including Dorot Foundation President Jeane Ungerleider and her brother, Dorot Foundation vice president Steven Ungerleider.
In 2011, the Yesod Fund was sued by the court-appointed trustee tasked with unwinding Madoff’s finances.  The suit alleged that the Yesod Fund, along with other Ungerleider family trusts, had collectively invested $17 million in Madoff’s investment firm and had received $7,565,531 in “fictitious profits” as a result. The trustee sought to recover those profits in order to compensate investors who had lost money to Madoff. The suit did not allege that any of Yesod’s trustees or beneficiaries knew about Madoff’s illegal activities or had any reason to believe their investment profits were generated by fraudulent means.
The suit against the Ungerleider family trusts was eventually consolidated with many similar cases and dismissed by a federal judge under securities law that protected the fund’s profits from the trustee’s efforts to recover them.  The trustee appealed this ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case in 2015.  
The Yesod Fund’s last donation to the Dorot Foundation was in 2014, which is also its last filing on record with charity regulators in New York State.  The Dorot Foundation has reported no donations from the fund – or any other donor – since that date.