Obituary: Philanthropist William Davidson gave generously to Israeli, Jewish causes

Davidson was the founder of the Davidson Center and the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, and was named an Honorary Citizen of Jerusalem.

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March 15, 2009 23:29
1 minute read.
Obituary: Philanthropist William Davidson gave generously to Israeli, Jewish causes

Bill Davidson 248 88. (photo credit: AP [file])

 
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Colorful billionaire philanthropist, sports enthusiast and principal owner of the Detroit Pistons basketball team William Davidson, who died at 86 on Friday in Michigan, was an extraordinarily generous man who gave to many causes in the United States and Israel. Among the causes he funded here was Hadassah University Medical Center, Ein Kerem, to which he and his wife, Karen, gave $75 million in 2007 toward the in-patient tower currently under construction. The gift was in honor of his mother, Sarah Wetsman Davidson, who was one of the founders of the Detroit chapter of the Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization. When completed, the tower will bear her name. The Davidsons also gave generously to the Israel Antiquities Authority, respecting the work being done in excavations that were undertaken in and around Jerusalem's Old City, especially in the area surrounding the Temple Mount. Davidson was the founder of the Davidson Center and the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, and was named an Honorary Citizen of Jerusalem. The excavations along the southern wall of the Temple Mount are referred to as "the Davidson excavations" in tribute to his generous donations to the project. A $15m. gift to the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot was used to endow the Davidson Institute of Science and Education. In appreciation the Weizmann Institute conferred an honorary doctorate on Davidson in 2001. In addition, Davidson funded the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. He was also a contributor to the Wexner Foundation, which gives grants to post-graduate students of Jewish studies. The Auburn Hills, Michigan, headquarters of Guardian Industries, the glass-products company Davidson ran, showcases ancient glass from the Holy Land, featuring glass vessels and objects on loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority. The exhibits date to the Roman and Byzantine periods.

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