Jewish Philanthropist Morton Mandel, Who 'Left Huge Legacy as Lover of Israel,' Dies at 98

Mandel donated tens of millions of dollars to Jewish causes, and is survived by his wife, Barbara, their three children and seven grandchildren

President Reuven Rivlin and Morton Mandel lay the cornerstone of the new building of the Mandel Foundation-Israel in Jerusalem, October 30, 2017.
Spokesperson unit of the President of Israel

Morton Mandel, a Cleveland businessman who donated tens of millions of dollars to Jewish causes, has died.

Mandel died Wednesday at his home in Florida, according to the Cleveland Jewish News. He was 98.

"Mort said that the measure of success is not money or fame, but rather the ability to look at oneself in the mirror and see that the reflection is a good person, a 'mentsch,'" President Reuven Rivlin said. "There is no doubt that Mort was a true mentsch, a man who built his successful businesses with his own two hands, but never forgot those he met along the way," Rivlin added.

The chairman of the Jewish Agency, Isaac Herzog, said, "I truly loved Mort. He was a great friend to me and my parents Aura and President Chaim Herzog. He left a huge legacy as a lover of Israel, as a Jewish leader, as a philanthropist making change. He will be remembered for his leadership, innovative thinking and his passion for Israel and the Jewish people.”

“Over the last century, Israel has known many magnificent leaders from the Diaspora who have invested their resources and expertise in building the Jewish State," Ben-Gurion University President Professor Daniel Chamovitz said. "Morton Mandel, who has become a household name in Israel, stands out by far for investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Jewish education and leadership. Morton’s impact at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev was singular and substantial."

Mandel's family left Poland for the United States in 1913. Mandel was born in Cleveland in 1921.

In 1940, he and his two brothers, Jack and Joseph, founded Premier Industrial Corp., an auto parts distributor that built off their uncle’s small store. It became a worldwide company listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1964 and merged with United Kingdom-based Farnell Electronics in 1996 to form Premier Farnell.

In 1953, the brothers founded the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, which has contributed to a number of Jewish and non-Jewish causes. The foundation has supported institutions including the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University and the Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

In 1990, the foundation launched a branch in Israel to support a range of programs there.

Mandel founded more than a dozen nonprofit organizations and served as president of United Way Services in Cleveland. He received a number of awards for his work, including the Presidential Award for Private Sector Initiatives presented by President Ronald Reagan.

He was predeceased by his brothers: Jack died in 2011 at 99 and Joseph in 2016 at 102.

Mandel is survived by his wife, Barbara, their three children and seven grandchildren.