In 1982, Prime Minister Menachem Begin appointed Dr. 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 to provide the government with policy options, information, and research that were previously unavailable. Within two years, the “Team” evolved into the independent Center for Social Policy Studies under the leadership of Israel Katz as Executive Director, with Professor Yaakov Kop as Director of Research.
To maintain the Center’s independent status, it was decided not to accept any government funding. Instead, funding for the Center came from the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and a group of committed JDC leaders, with JDC assuming sole financial responsibility for the Center in 1987. This was a milestone for the Center in establishing its independent status and assuring its continuation.
In 1991 Israel Katz retired his position as Director of the Center and Yaakov Kop became the Director. Under the chairmanship of Henry Taub, Kop developed the structure of the Area Teams and the 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. This added to the Center’s comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach the element of area specialization.
In 2003, another milestone was reached when the JDC decided to embark on an Endowment Campaign to ensure the long-term funding of the Center. The Endowment Fund was created with donations from the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation, the Herbert M. and Nell Singer foundation, Jane and John Colman, the Kolker-Saxon-Hallock Family Foundation, the Milton A. and Roslyn Z. Wolf Foundation, and the JDC. At that time, the name of the Center 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 moved in to its own building in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem – in close proximity to the President and the Prime Minister’s residences.
In November 2008, Professor Yaakov Kop retired and was replaced as Executive Director by Tel-Aviv University professor Dan Ben-David (PhD, Economics, University of Chicago, areas of specialization: economic growth, globalization, and the Israeli economy). In October 2009, Hebrew University professor Ayal Kimhi (PhD, Economics, University of Chicago, areas of specialization: labor economics and income inequality) joined the Center as Deputy Director. The change in leadership at the Center has been accompanied by new directions for research as well as a revamping of some of the basic program elements.