Mort Mandel .
(photo credit: SAM SOKOL)
Morton Mandel plans on investing in Israeli firms as a way of building up the Jewish state, the billionaire American Jew told The Jerusalem Post during an interview in Tel Aviv last week.
Speaking from the offices of one of the businesses he owns here, Mandel, the 93-year-old co-founder of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, said that he plans to “buy more companies that are not doing well and fix them up. The driver is I want a better, stronger, healthier Israel.”
Mandel, who invests in Israeli companies and donates directly to a variety of Israeli causes primarily linked to education and leadership training, was honored by Yediot Books on the sale of the twenty-thousandth copy of the Hebrew translation of his book
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by the Negev development town of Yeruham, which named a street after him. Mandel owns a bottling plant there and contributes to a number of local charitable endeavors.
Explaining his desire to contribute to Israeli society, Mandel recalled growing up with anti-Semitism in pre-World War II America and how the Israeli victory in the 1967 Six Day War “made me a foot taller and a different person with my non-Jewish friends.
“If Israel had been here in 1938, my relatives [in Europe] would still be living,” he said.
Discussing one of the firms he owns here, he said: “I own this company because I want to create jobs in Israel, and I am going to expand this company to create more jobs. I’m a billionaire; I didn’t come to make more money. I’ve given millions away.”
Among Mandel’s recent donations are a building to house a center for the advanced study of the humanities at the Hebrew University, which is slated to be opened in June, and a children’s museum in Beersheba.
Mandel seemed especially proud of the leadership training programs he runs, which have recently included a number of members of the ultra-Orthodox community.
He hopes that those participants will have a “ripple effect” in their communities and will help unlock the talents of the ultra-Orthodox, which he believes will be important for the future development of the state.
Regarding the government’s World Jewry Joint Initiative, a strategy under which Israel plans on implementing programs to strengthen Jewish identity throughout the Diaspora, Mandel said that the Israelis “should be players” and that the state should “fight for what they will think will strengthen Jewish identity.”