50 Influential Jews: Two Generations of Philanthropists - No. 12

Soros, Adelson and Shashua: Learn how these three families are shaping the world of philanthropy, each one in their own way.

 George and Alexander Soros, Miriam and Matan Adelson, and Amnon Shashua and Inbar Shashua Bar-Nir. (photo credit: GAL LAPIDOT, MARC ISRAEL SELLEM, MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90, REUTERS)
George and Alexander Soros, Miriam and Matan Adelson, and Amnon Shashua and Inbar Shashua Bar-Nir.

George and Alex Soros

In the grand chessboard of billion-dollar legacies, two young kings make their opening moves: In 5783, Matan Adelson (24) and Alex Soros (37) emerged from the shadows of their influential families, taking significant roles in their respective domains. Hailing from affluent Jewish families known for their divergent political endorsements, both heirs are carving their own paths.

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George Soros, the billionaire known for his progressive stance, revealed in June his intent to transfer leadership of his $25 billion philanthropic enterprise. In a Wall Street Journal interview, Alex Soros expressed intentions to adopt an even more political approach than his father, particularly supporting voting and reproductive rights. As chair of the Open Society Foundations, he was also acknowledged as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2018.

George Soros, born György Schwartz in Hungary in 1930, is an American businessman and philanthropist with a net worth of $8.6 billion as of March 2021, having donated over $32 billion to the Open Society Foundations. Surviving Nazi-occupied Hungary, he moved to the UK in 1947, studying at the London School of Economics. He established his first hedge fund in 1969, later gaining the title “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England” in 1992 from a notable short sale. Although a significant donor to progressive causes, he has been a controversial figure, with many conspiracy theories and false claims surrounding him, some of which are antisemitic.

Miriam and Matan Adelson

Meanwhile, young Adelson, just two years after the passing of his father, Sheldon Adelson, a renowned casino magnate, took ownership of Hapoel Jerusalem, a leading basketball team in Israel. In a June speech, Matan said, “Basketball’s profound impact on my life and my deep connection to Israel inspired this venture. I’m honored to represent Jerusalem, our eternal capital.” 

While the Adelsons are often contrasted with the Soros family due to their political affiliations, they’ve also supported mainstream Jewish initiatives, such as Birthright Israel, and various Israeli educational and medical institutions.

Matan’s mother, Dr. Miriam Adelson, is now running the family empire and is probably the largest donor to Jewish and Israeli causes. Miriam Adelson, born in 1945, is an American-Israeli physician, billionaire, and publisher of the newspaper Israel Hayom. After marrying Sheldon Adelson in 1991, she became a prominent donor to conservative causes in the US and Israel, supporting Donald Trump’s campaigns and defenses. Recognized for her contributions, she’s received accolades such as the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As of spring 2023, Forbes ranks her as the fifth-richest woman, with a family fortune estimated at $36 billion.

Amnon Shashua and 

Inbar Shashua Bar-Nir

Amnon Shashua is a distinguished entrepreneur and computer scientist renowned for his role as the founder of Mobileye, OrCam, and ONE ZERO bank. His LinkedIn profile aptly characterizes him as a “world-renowned expert in AI, computer vision, natural language processing, and related fields.” 

Shashua has received the Dan David Prize, the Mobility Innovator Award, and the Israel Prize. Today, he also serves as chairman of AI21 Labs.

Alongside his wife, Anat, Amnon co-founded the Shashua Family Foundation, an organization committed to philanthropy and social responsibility. Currently, his daughter Inbar serves as chairwoman of the board. She is also co-CEO of the foundation’s most prominent initiative, the “Social Solidarity Foundation.” This philanthropic venture is dedicated to empowering small businesses throughout Israel.

“Growing up in a giving and socially responsible household, I knew I wanted to make a positive change in people around me. Throughout the past decade, I have been seeking the right path in order to do so, a path that will allow me to both create social change and also fulfill my personal ambitions,” Inbar wrote on her LinkedIn page. I believe in social impact, innovation and creativity. I am fortunate that today, my job focuses on these exact pillars.”

Notably, the foundation has already extended support to over 2,000 businesses since its founding in 2000, making a tangible difference in the lives of countless individuals and communities.