Yekutiel Federman, Dan Hotel Founder, 87

Yekutiel Federman, the founder of the Dan hotel chain, died Friday at the age of 87. Renowned as a successful businessman, Federman was also a strong proponent of the Middle East peace process.

Yekutiel Federman, the founder of the Dan hotel chain, died Friday at the age of 87. Renowned as a successful businessman, Federman was also a strong proponent of the Middle East peace process and was active in efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian coexistence.

Federman had close ties with the Labor Party. Last year, he was mentioned as a contributor to the election campaign of former prime minister Ehud Barak.

Born in Germany, Federman was an activist in the Zionist Movement and emigrated to Israel in 1940. In 1945, he purchased the Katte Dan Pension in Tel Aviv and turned the hotel into an international meeting place, with former prime ministers David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir using the location on a regular basis.

The Katte Dan continued to prosper following the establishment of the state, while, at the same time, Federman helped to smuggle Jews into the country. Over the years, the Dan chain grew and today it includes 13 hotels.

Federman was also reported to have had close ties with numerous world leaders, including the late Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, former U.S. president George Bush and others who would stay at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem when visiting Israel and meet privately with the hotelier.

In addition to his hotel business, Federman was involved in industry and real estate enterprises in Israel and abroad. He was also among the first Israelis to invest in the development of African states.

Today, the Federman group employs around 9,000 workers in Israel and abroad.

Federman was active in public life, serving on the board of trustees of Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University and The Weizmann Institute of Science and Haifa University. He also served on the board of directors of the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology.

Federman had a soft spot for the Open University and supported study programs for soldiers.