The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel is an independent, non-partisan, socioeconomic research institute based in Jerusalem. The Center conducts high-quality, impartial research on socioeconomic conditions in Israel, and develops innovative, equitable and practical options for macro public policies that advance the well-being of Israelis. The Center strives to influence public policy through direct communications with policy makers and by enriching the public debate that accompanies the decision making process.
In 1982, Prime Minister Menachem Begin appointed Israel Katz (who had completed his term as Minister of Labor and Social Affairs) to head up a new group with the title of the Prime Minister’s Team for Planning Social Services. This entity was charged with providing the government with innovative analyses, research and policy options.
Within two years, the commission evolved into the independent “Center for Social Policy Studies” under the leadership and vision of Israel Katz as Executive Director. To ensure the Center’s apolitical status, a decision was made that it would not accept government funding of any kind. The American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and a group of committed JDC leaders, recognizing the importance of a unique, apolitical research Center, committed to provide long-term funding. Throughout the years, the Center built affiliations with a wide-range of academic researchers in the social sciences, as well as with policy practitioners. High-quality research and diverse expertise allowed the Center to gain prominence as a leading source for evidence-based analyses on social policy issues.
In 1991, Israel Katz retired his position as the Center’s Director and Yaakov Kop assumed the role. Under the chairmanship of Henry Taub, Kop developed the structure of Area Teams and an Interdisciplinary Team. This structure is still in place at the Center today. The Teams – referred to today as Policy Programs – are made up of recognized experts from both the field and academia recruited on an ad hoc basis, while the “Interdisciplinary Team” is composed of the team now referred to as the Center’s in-house researchers. 2003 was another milestone year for the Taub Center, as the Joint Distribution Committee launched an endowment campaign to enable the eventual independence and long-term financial sustainability of the Center. At that time, the name of the organization was formally changed to the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, in recognition of the continuous support and dedication of the Center’s long-time Chairman of the Board of Directors, Henry Taub. In 2007, the Center permanently relocated to the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem, in close proximity to both the Knesset and the President and the Prime Minister’s residences.
In November 2008, Prof. Kop retired and was replaced as Executive Director by Tel Aviv University economics professor Dan Ben-David, whose many accomplishments on behalf of the Center included developing new publications and expanding the Center’s research and dissemination capabilities. Following Prof. Ben-David’s tenure and an extensive search, the Board appointed Prof. Avi Weiss of Bar Ilan University as the new President in 2015. Prof. Weiss’ expertise is in applied economics, and he previously served as the Chief Economist and Deputy Director of the Israel Antitrust Authority, a member of the Trajtenberg Committee, and in several other noteworthy positions. He also previously served as Chair of the Economics Department at Bar Ilan University.
In his role as President, Weiss oversees the operations of the Taub Center in cooperation with Director General Suzanne Patt Benvenisti (BA, Columbia University, MPP, Harvard Kennedy School) who came to the Center with extensive experience in the non-profit sector.
In recent years, the Center’s staff has grown to provide for additional in-house research capacity and enhanced capabilities to share this research through communications, distribution and broad dissemination efforts. The Center is led by a strong and diverse Board of Directors, whose members provide continued guidance and support for the Taub Center’s operations and endowment, and overseen by its General Assembly. The Taub Center staff and its board today share a deep commitment – that has resonated throughout the Center’s 36-year history – to independent, evidence-based research that helps advance Israel’s long-term prosperity.