Boca Raton Resident Arthur J. Epstein Gives Cohen Hillel Academy $5 Million Gift
Cohen Hillel Academy, a K-8 Jewish independent school located in Marblehead, Massachusetts, today announced a $5 million donation from longtime benefactor, successful businessman, and active community leader Arthur J. Epstein; the largest contribution in its 62-year history. In recognition of this generous gift, and with the support of Eli and Bessie Cohen’s family, the school will be renamed The Arthur J. Epstein School in the summer of 2017. A permanent tribute to the Cohen family will be installed at school to honor their legacy.
An entrepreneur and investor, Epstein began his career with Midas Muffler in 1965, eventually holding 30 locations in New England, the largest number of franchises within the region. A partner in the real estate firm Cres Development, Epstein was also a member of numerous corporate boards including Malden Trust Company (now Eastern Bank) and Portland Glass. As an Angel Investor, Epstein provided seed money to diverse new ventures including PR Restaurants (Panera Bread) and Planet Fitness. A graduate of Boston University, Epstein invests in and advises start-ups developed by student entrepreneurs at the Sloan School of Management at MIT.
In recent years, Epstein has focused much of his attention on philanthropy. “I’ve tried to make a difference with the time I have on earth,” said Epstein. “People don’t realize how good it feels to give back. Well, I can tell them, it feels great.”
Widely recognized as an engaged and dedicated volunteer, Epstein is a supporter of numerous nonprofit organizations including Boston Children’s Hospital, The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, Massachusetts General Hospital, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, WGBH, North Shore Medical Center/Salem Hospital and Congregation Shirat Hayam in Swampscott.
According to Cohen Hillel’s Head of School, Amy Gold, Epstein’s most recent gift enables the school to continue offering an outstanding educational experience grounded in Jewish values as it grows enrollment. “Arthur Epstein is widely recognized for providing leadership, wise counsel and support for nonprofit organizations that strengthen the community. This significant contribution to Cohen Hillel Academy demonstrates Arthur’s belief in and commitment to maintaining an independent Jewish school for generations to come. We are extraordinarily grateful.”
Epstein’s connection to Cohen Hillel Academy began long before he set foot in the school. More than thirty years ago, Epsteinmet Bennett Solomon, a Brandeis graduate student, who was leading a community trip to Israel. “I was impressed by Bennett’s character and his aspirations. He understood the benefits and blessings of merging secular and Jewish education in a stimulating environment where children could learn, grow and thrive,” said Epstein. Their friendship deepened when Solomon became the school’s principal in 1979.
Inspired by the school’s mission, vision and priorities, and to honor Solomon’s memory, Epstein has consistently supported Cohen Hillel Academy. “I don’t invest in businesses or institutions; I invest in people, first Bennett and now Amy, the Hillel faculty and staff and the children.” His $5 million gift follows earlier contributions which included support for the school’s Learning Center, Annual Fund and tuition assistance program.
A hands-on volunteer, Epstein was instrumental in establishing a building fund for the current site and spearheaded a committee working to retire the school’s mortgage. In the 1980s, Epstein served as Vice President of Cohen Hillel Academy’s Board of Directors. He joined the Board of Trustees (now the Trustee Leadership Council) in 2001 and served as Chair from 2001-2014.
A Malden native and longtime Marblehead resident, Epstein now resides in Brookline, MA and Boca Raton, Florida. He is the father of three and grandfather of six.