Many would agree that Judaism and philanthropy go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Most Jews who give their money to others less fortunate will, to varying degrees, cite Divine will as a major motivator for their charity the belief that tzedakah is what G-d wants us to do and, through the Torah, commands it.
Then theres Gordon Gamm, not quite so nearly categorized.
He is Jewish, and most definitely a philanthropist, but tzedakah the idea that his giving is inspired by G-d is not a factor in his personal equation.
Which is not to say, the soft-spoken and thoughtful Gamm clarified in an interview earlier this month with the Intermountain Jewish News, that his being Jewish is not an important part of that equation.
The mostly retired attorney whose fortune came both from his professional career and his investments, mainly in oil sees no paradox or conundrum in that set of ideas.
Its partly my upbringing in Jewish culture, he says over morning coffee in his Boulder dining room. Theres a strong value in giving to others who are in need, and there are a lot of models within the Jewish community.
Gamm, 75, is a native of Shreveport, La. who spent much of his life in Kansas City and moved to Boulder 22 years ago, attracted to the city both because it has an appreciation for the outdoors and good health and the fact that he has always loved college towns.
My father and mother were both Reform Jews, says Gamm, adding that he went to Sunday school and was confirmed but never had a Bar Mitzvah.
I asked my father, What does it mean that were Jewish? And he would say it means that we believe in one G-d. That was his sense of it. If he had any life problems, I think the last place he would go would be to the Old Testament or the rabbis to seek answers. But he was a smart guy, a lawyer himself, and he had good judgment about what a life of integrity meant, and how to be honest.