Forbes has once again released its yearly ranking of the world’s billionaires, naming a total of 1,426 wealthy men and women. Israel boasts 17 of these fiscally fortunate people. While some Jewish successes, such as the youngest noted billionaire, 28-year-old Dustin Moskovitz, did not make the top 100 list, 24 of the top-earning people on the planet have dabbled in matzoh or mitzvahs at one point or another. So for everyone who is still hoping to make their mother proud with a marriage rich in both fiscal and Judaic virtues, here is a countdown of the Jewish billionaires whose fortunes ranks among the top 100 in the world.
#24. John Paulson
Number 91 on Forbes’ list of the rich and richer, John Paulson is the founder of Paulson & Co. Inc. The hedge fund titan made what has been called the greatest trade ever, when he bet against the subprime mortgage bubble that crashed the market in 2008. Worth $11.2 bullion at the age of 57, Paulson now owns several estates—in Aspen, Colorado, Southampton and a townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Unfortunately, ladies, he’s married to a Romanian immigrant.
J-Connection: Paulson’s mother is descended from Jewish immigrants from Europe. His father, though an atheist, attended synagogue with the family.
#23. James Simons
At a net worth of $11.7 billion, James Simons sits comfortably at number 82 in the roundup of Forbes billionaires. Though the “Quant King” officially retired from his $20 billion hedge fund firm in 2010, he still plays a role at Renaissance Technologies, whose secretive funds still provide unbelievable dividends by using (gasp!) math to predict the market and conduct automated trades.
J-Connection: Raised by a shoe factory owner in Brookline, Massachusetts, Simons was raised Jewish.
#22. Ronald Perelman
Number 79 in the world and 29 in the US, 70-year-old Ronald Perelman is not too shabby with a net worth of $12.2 billion. One of the world’s largest philanthropic donors, Perelman is a buyout king at work. The number of marriages he’s embarked on is only matched by the number of companies he has stakes in—from Revlon to AM General.
J-Connection: Perelman grew up in a conservative Jewish household, and at the age of 18, had a religious awakening during a trip to Israel. "I felt not just this enormous pride at being a Jew; I felt this enormous void at not being a better Jew. So I decided then to begin being a better Jew,” he said of the experience, which convinced him to keep a kosher house, observe the Sabbath, and donate millions to Jewish groups and causes, particularly the Chabad-Lubavitch sect, to ensure the continuance of the Jewish faith in the modern era.
#21. Mikhail Prokhorov
Single and ready to mingle, Mikhail Prokhorov has $13 billion to make up for the fact that you cannot pronounce his name. By turns a banker, athlete, playboy, investor, media player, NBA owner and now politician, number 69 on the Forbes Billionaires list rocked Russia last year when he jumped into the presidential race against Vladimir Putin, taking a respectable eight percent of the vote with an unremarkable campaign.
J-Connection: Prokhorov’s maternal grandmother, Anna Belkina, was a prominent Jewish microbiologist who made vaccines during World War II, which makes him one of the tribe.
#20. Serge Dassault and Family
Aviation is Dassault’s game, and he knows how to play it. Number 69 on Forbes’ list, the French family now is worth a pretty $13 billion. Serge inherited the company from his father, Marcel Dassault, who founded the firm that makes Mirage and Rafale jets. Now the company is expanding into media, forming Le Groupe Figaro.
J-Connection: Serge Dassault and his family survived German internment camps Montluc and Drancy. After the war, the Dassault family converted to Catholicism and changed their name.
#19. Mark Zuckerberg
As the second youngest billionaire, but tied for the 66th richest human, Mark Zuckerberg has seen his fair share of media scrutiny and controversy. Luckily for him, none of that is relevant to his ever-growing net worth, which is currently counted by Forbes to be $13.3 billion. The co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Facebook continues to grow with his company, having recently donated $500 million in company shares to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
J-Connection: Mark Zuckerberg had a Bar Mitzvah and not so surprisingly, his party theme was “Star Wars.” In more recent years, Zuckerberg describes himself as an atheist.
#18. Paul Allen
At 60 years old, Paul Allen is the 53rd richest man in the world and possibly the biggest sports fan in American. Allen took the fortune he made from co-founding Microsoft and purchased the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trailblazers, all while co-owning the Seattle Sounders FC. With football, basketball, and soccer checked off his list, the cancer survivor has committed $500 million to the Allen Institute for Brain Science after recently losing his mother to Alzheimer’s.
J-Connection: Paul Allen was born in Seattle, Washington to a Jewish family.
#17. Viktor Vekselberg
Viktor Vekselberg, a married father of two, made headlines several years ago for purchasing Faberge eggs from Russia’s last tzar, but probably cares more about his $15.1 billion. As Forbes’ 52nd richest person in the world, Vekselberg first found riches in the aluminum industry but was recently hired by the Russian government to head Skolkovo, which is described as their own version of our Silicon Valley.
J-Connection: Viktor Vekselberg is Jewish.
#16. Steve Ballmer
If there was any doubt of the Jewish communities’ influence on the technological world, this year’s 51st richest man clears the air. Steve Ballmer, the CEO and chairman of Microsoft, has earned his $15.2 billion through 33 years at the software company. While he battles heightened competition from Apple and Google, his worth continues to grow. Additionally, Ballmer has been very involved in Microsoft operations in Israel and is a member of the Jewish National Fund’s World Chairman’s Council.
J-Connection: Steven Ballmer was born to a Jewish-American mother of Iranian descent.
#15. Michael Dell
Michael Dell’s Jewish parents may not have been so excited when he dropped out of college, but as the 49th richest person in the world and 15th richest Jewish man, he’s probably not apologizing. After disassembling the Apple computer he owned as a teenager, Michael went on to launch his own PC manufacturing enterprise, Dell. He remains the chairman and CEO of his self-titled company.
J-Connection: Michael Dell was born in Austin, Texas to a wealthy Jewish family.
#14. Leonid Mikhelson
With a net worth of $15.4 billion, Leonid Mikhelson ties for the 47th richest person in the world with fellow Jewish billionaire, Rinat Akhmetov. As the 3rd wealthiest man in Russia, Mikhelson followed his father’s footsteps and eventually succeeding his father as the CEO of Russian natural gas producer, Novatek. His wallet feels even more weight as a result of being the largest shareholder of the First United Bank.
J-Connection: Leonid Mikhelson is Jewish and lives in Russia.
#13. Rinat Akhmetov
Ukrainian’s richest man, and the world’s 47th, is 46-year old Rinat Akhmetov. Though he grew up as the son of a coal miner, Rinat made his first million trading that coal and then expanded his $15.4 billion reign to mining, metals, banking, real estate, and even soccer. As owner of “football” team FC Shahtar Donetzk, Akhmetov seems to be fulfilling some childhood passions while the money rolls in by the billion.
J-Connection: Rinat Akhmetov is Jewish.
#12. Joseph Safra
With $15.9 billion, Joseph Safra is the 46th richest man and in the world. A successful banker, Joseph recently merged his private banks in Switzerland, Europe and the Bahamas to form Bank J. Safra Sarasin. He shares his success with his four children, hiring three of his sons to manage individual Safra banks. But the real draw to this 74-year old billionaire? His holdings include Manhattan’s 660 Madison Ave building, most well known for housing the department store Barneys.
J-Connection: Joseph Safra was born into a Lebanese Jewish family, whose banking legacy dates back to the Ottoman Empire.
#11. Len Blavatnik
As the 44th richest person in the world, Len Blavatnik shows an eclectic taste in where he prefers to get his $16 billion from. The Harvard and Columbia grad first found wealth in Russian oil but has recently put his money into the music industry, purchasing record-label Warner Music for $3.3 billion in 2011. Further diversified in the arts, Blavatnik holds stakes in Tory Burch’s fashion house. He is currently a US citizen who lives in London’s exclusive Kensington Palace Gardens.
J-Connection: Len Blavatnik is a Ukrainian born and Jewish. In 2008 he funded a Russian exhibition dedicated to Jewish Soldiers in WWII.
#10. Mikhail Fridman
Forbes’ 41st richest man in the world, Mikhail Fridman is a Russian Jewish self-made billionaire. As a young adult, Fridman sold theater tickets, but worked his way up in the oil and banking industries, and now has a worth $16.5 billion as co-founder of Alfa Group. He is currently the 2nd richest man in Russia.
J-Connection: Mikhail Fridman was born in Russia, to Jewish engineer parents.
#9. George Soros
George Soros is the 30th richest man in the world and 16th in the US. A hedge-fund extraordinaire and chairman of Soros Fund Managament, George has a net worth of $19.2 billion. Soros has also launched several foundations throughout his ongoing fiscal reign, whose causes range from education, public health, and human rights. The 82-year-old currently lives in Katonah, NY and is planning his third wedding this spring, to his 40-year-old fiancé.
J-Connection: George Soros was named the Most Philanthropic Jew in 2011, with donations totaling $332 million. He was born in Budapest and survived Hungary’s Nazi occupation.
#8. Carl Icahn
At 77-years-old and $20 billion, Carl Icahn is a self-made billionaire and founder of Icahn Capital Management, landing at #26 on Forbes billionaire list. Like any other good Jewish boy from New York, Icahn originally set out to be a doctor but dropped out of medical school as a young adult to start a career on Wall Street. Less than ten year later, Icahn started his own holding company and grew his wealth through smart investments and shareholding. He has not forgotten his middle-class New Yorker roots, having donated $200 million to Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 2012 and $40 million to further support his Bronx-located charter schools.
J-Connection: Born and raised in Far Rockaway, Queens, Icahn’s family was Jewish and his father was a cantor.
#7. Sergey Brin
Though no longer an eligible bachelor, with a wife of six years, Sergey Brin’s $22.8 billion net worth certainly makes him a catch. It has also given him the rank of 21st richest man in the world. After meeting Larry Page during their doctoral studies at Stanford University, Brin and fellow-Jewish boy Page founded Google.com. Since the Google’s launch in 1998, and it’s subsequent purchase of YouTube in 2006, Brin’s fortune has multiplied exponentially. He served as president of the site from 2001 to 2011, but currently directs special projects for Google.
J-Connection: Sergey was born in Moscow, Russia and immigrated to the US with his family to escape Jewish persecution in 1979.
#6. Larry Page
As co-founder and CEO of Google, Larry Page landed the spot of 20th richest man in the world with his net worth of $23 billion, just ahead of fellow Google-man Sergey Brin. Page raised his first $1 million to start-up the now universally successful search engine through family, friends and other investors in 1998. Page and fellow co-founders stretched their growing millions to billions when Google went public in 2004.
J-Connection: Larry Page’s mother was Jewish. Not convinced? Just Google it.
#5. Sheldon Adelson
The world’s 5th richest Jew is a gamblin’ man. Or he at least makes money off of those who are. Adelson, who landed 15th on Forbes rankings of billionaires, has obtained his $26.5 billion through casino ownership is Las Vegas. However, his closeness to vacationing citizens is not limited to those in Sin City; 40 percent of the money raised for the Birthright Foundation since 2007 have been contributed by Adelson.
Adelson definitely has a strong connection to Israel, with the ownership of a pro-Netanyahu Israeli newspaper, a position on the board of directors for the Republican Jewish Coalition, and millions of dollars in donation to the American Society for Yad Vashem, the American Israel Education Foundation, and the Zionist Organization of America, to name a few.
J-Connection: If his Israeli newspaper and pro-Zionist donations aren’t enough to convince you, Sheldon Adelson is Jewish.
#4. Michael Bloomberg
As the world’s 13th richest man, and fourth richest Jewish person, Michael Bloomberg’s net worth of $27 billion began with his work on Wall Street but drastically grew when he founded his own company, Bloomberg LP, in 1982. Despite being most talked about in recent years for his role as New York Mayor, this professional title has little to do with his growing financial wealth; Bloomberg voluntarily waived the usually allocated mayor’s salary and instead receives an annual payment of $1 for completing his mayoral duties.
J-Connection: Michael Bloomberg was born into a Jewish-American family in Massachusetts.
#2 and #3. Charles and David Koch
You and your sister looking for a nice, albeit wizened, pair of New York-loving brothers to double with this weekend? Well look no further. Brothers David and Charles tie with a net worth of $34 billion, landing themselves ranks six and seven on Forbes’ 2013 billionaire list, and leaving them plenty of pocket change to organize a lovely date night.
As owners of the second-largest private company in the US, Koch Industries, the siblings have made their fortune around refineries and chemicals, as well as investing in a variety of companies, including Dixie Cups and Lycra. They are also known for generous philanthropic donations to staple New York locations, such as Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Charles and David have also been influential supporters and financial backers of conservative government policy.
J-Connection: The Koch brothers are Jewish.
#1. Larry Ellison
With a net worth of $43 billion and ranking fifth on Forbes’ list, Ellison is this year’s wealthiest Jew. He originally built his fortune with the founding of software company Oracle in 1977, but has since expanded his bank account with several lucrative real estate purchases, including the Hawaiian island of Lanai and Hawaiian airline Island Air. Because if you’re going to own an island, you might as well just go ahead and purchase the airline that will take you there.
J-Connection: Larry was adopted and raised by his Russian Jewish father.