Easing animal and human suffering through the direct action of people who care.


Our Founder

Steven Jay Bernheim

In March 2010, Steven Jay Bernheim formally organized the The Bernheim Foundation. Its purpose: to ease animal and human suffering through direct action.  One hundred percent of funding goes directly to ease suffering,  all of which has been provided through Steven Jays personal philanthropy.  Steven Jay and the Foundation have already given sleeping bags and hygiene kits to thousands of homeless on skid row and in Venice and Santa Monica, and truck loads of blankets and supplies to L.A. animal shelters.

Steven Jay - known around town as SJ or Bernie - is the child and grandchild of  Holocaust survivors.  His personal commitment to assisting others through direct action dates to his own childhood.  Not born into wealth, Steven Jay started working at age 15 - cleaning toilets at a restaurant and later at a supermarket, but still found time outside of school and work to organize an after-school mentoring program for junior high kids - children the schools had labeled, not gifted.  Although Steven Jay won several academic scholarships to Harvard, he still had to work in the kitchens there   serving food to his classmates and cleaning their plates.  Despite a full course load and having to work in the kitchens, Steven Jay, while at Harvard, honored his personal commitment to direct action by teaching literacy to prison inmates.  He graduated Harvard cum laude.

After a stint teaching the children of U.S. soldiers stationed in Germany, Steven Jay attended and graduated an Ivy League law school, took and passed the California Bar exam, and became an attorney in Los Angeles.  In his legal practice, he represented earthquake victims and others against cheating insurance companies, fought pro bono for civil rights, and was honored by the magazine of the State Bar as one of the top 20 lawyers in California - out of more than 160,000. He has received many other awards for his legal work, and his opinions have been sought by the Los Angeles Times and the California Senate, among others.  Steven Jay eventually  branched out into diversified businesses including motion pictures and auto racing.

Since coming to L.A., Steven Jay has worked with at-risk youth at the Aviva Foundation, and with developmentally disabled adults, as well as contributing financially.  He distributed a national PSA for Spanish tv promoting dog and cat welfare, organized and funded the international rescue of a brutalized Angolan chimpanzee, personally rescued and placed countless homeless animals, funded veterinary care for pets of those who could not afford it, and through direct action has housed and educated people in need.  In 2002, Rosa Parks placed his name on the National Wall of Tolerance.

Steven Jay has provided critical funding to 25 organizations fighting for the welfare of animals, children, consumers, the environment, the developmentally handicapped, and against disease and poverty.  This work will now continue via the Bernheim Foundation.