‘Exceptional entrepreneur put Eilat on world tourist map’

David Lewis, the exceptional entrepreneur and philanthropist, and head of the Isrotel Group dies at 87.

David Lewis 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
David Lewis 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
David Lewis, the exceptional entrepreneur and philanthropist, head of the Isrotel Group that put Eilat on the world tourist map, is dead at 87.
The Lewis family, and especially David’s wife, Ruth, a woman with a distinguished, kind presence, and David’s children and grandchildren have all enjoyed better, more meaningful lives because of David Lewis. So did the Jewish Community and the English people more generally, Israel and many individuals and institutions in both countries.
David was always a gentleman to the core of his being, a faithful Jew, a courageous and caring human being and modest to a fault.
I have been privileged to enjoy David’s friendship for many years.
My institute, The Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress has been a beneficiary of his largess. He did all he could to help us make Israel economically viable and prosperous.
We met whenever David visited Israel and could take time off from his many duties and preoccupations. There was not one meeting in which the conversation did not extend to the many interests of David’s, whether contemporary or historic, and that did not display his multifaceted and detailed knowledge and strong convictions and values, but above all his care for everything that touched his life, and his warm humanity.
Like his namesake, David was a king and a poet, a supreme leader in getting good works done, whether in business or in charity, a poet in his nuanced understanding of people, in his empathy for them, in the way he got involved in their life, always helping to make it better, to enrich it in many varied ways, material and spiritual.
David was a practical man; look at all that he has built, solidly, in times that were shifting and uncertain, often dangerous. Look at what he did for Eilat – a thriving city now, at the bottom edge of Israel that David transformed from a backwater, struggling to survive, into a gem on Israel’s tourist map. Loot at his pioneering enterprise, the sparkling spa he built on the Carmel range and his newest love, the unique inn “Bereshit” (with its Biblical connotations) on the rim of the majestic Grand Canyon of Israel, the Ramon Crater.
David was a visionary – one would hesitate to call him a dreamer - because unlike even the best of dreamers, he has managed to mostly translate his visions into good works.
And there are so many of them, too many to enumerate because the list is so long and because nothing would have embarrassed David more than praise for his works.
So please forgive us David if after you left us we managed to embarrass you, but it could not be avoided. It is our duty of love to talk in praise of extraordinary people, to hold them up as an example for all and as role models for the young.
Many have loved you deeply, David, because you were the kind of man who evoked love, not only for himself, but for humanity, that you represented so honorably and magnificently.
The writer is the director of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress.