Ben Gurion

130 years of Pioneering Spirit

From the end of the 19th century till today, the Rothschild family has been one of the pillars on which the Zionist vision and the State of Israel are based. The aspiration to establish and develop an advanced state – which will not only be the home of the Jewish people but will be a model for a moral and inclusive society – has been leading the family for over 130 years, since Baron Abraham Benjamin Edmond James de Rothschild – “the Known Benefactor – Hanadiv” operated in the Land of Israel.

ביקורו החמישי והאחרון של הנדבן הידוע בארץ

The pogroms known as "the storms in the Negev" (1881-2), which brought an extreme flood of anti-Semitism across Russia, was a defining moment in the life of Baron Abraham Benjamin Edmond James de Rothschild, one of the wealthiest French Jews of those days. In the wake of the riots against the Jews of Russia, the Baron, at the age of 35, was convinced that the Jews who had chosen to settle in the Land of Israel should be supported.
His involvement in helping the Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel began with a donation to the settlement of Rishon Letzion, which was about to be dismantled. Later, his philanthropic activities expanded and included purchasing land, economic development of the settlements, and the establishment of an infrastructure for educational, health and other institutions. The nickname "The Known Benefactor - Hanadiv" stuck during his first years of activity because of his refusal to advertise his name as generous donor.
Rothschild, motivated by philanthropic missions and religious faith, was first and foremost an idealist who dreamed of establishing a healthy, independent, productive and equal society in the Land of Israel. In his speech before the first settlers, he declared: "I have not come to your aid because of your poverty and suffering, as there are many cases of similar distress in the world; I have done this because I have seen in you the fulfillers of Israel's dream of resurrection and of the precious ideal of us all - the sacred goal of Israel's return to the homeland of its forefathers."

כותרת שניה

The Baron Rothschild made five trips to the Land of Israel, and in each journey he brought with a team of experts and professional equipment to assist the settlements and contribute to the establishment and development of health and education services as well as agriculture. He embarked on his first journey in 1887, at the age of 42. His plan was to enter the country without prior notice, so as not to attract the attention of the Ottoman rulers. To this end, he and his wife Adelheid-Ada boarded a passenger ship like any other person, and they sailed from Alexandria to Jaffa. The plan at being inconspicuous was unsuccessful, as the Jewish settlement was overwhelmed when the philanthropist's arrival became known. He began his journey with a visit to the Western Wall, and from there went on to tour the settlements and educational institutions that were established with his support.
During his other visits to Israel, the last of which took place in 1925 when he was nearly 80 years old, Baron Rothschild also met with the leaders of the Yishuv and government representatives, examined the successes and achievements of the farmers in the settlements, provided a response to difficulties and brought hope to the entire Jewish community.

כותרת שלישית

After 18 years of directly supporting the settlements, Baron Rothschild transferred the administration of the colonies under his auspices to the JCA (Jewish Colonization Association), which dealt with settling the Jews who fled Europe in various countries around the world. Yet even under the management of the JCA, run by Baron Hirsch, the Baron Rothschild continued to support the colonies - some say that he was the moving spirit of the JCA - and helped the company to continue and expand settlements in the Land of Israel. This led to the establishment of new settlements and contributed to the farmers' independence and their economic prosperity.

As part of his vision for solidifying the Jewish community in the Land of Israel, Baron Rothschild established PJCA (Palestine Jewish Colonization Association), headed by his son, James Armand de Rothschild. The Palestine Committee established by the Baron in the framework of the JCA's activities (which ceased operating in 1923) decided to transfer all of its assets to PJCA, and so the settlements of Mishmar Hayarden, Hadera and Nes Tziona were also transferred to the management of his son James. PJCA continued to purchase land and establish settlements, engage in forestation and establish many factories throughout the country.

Baron Edmond de Rothschild passed away at the age of 89."Hanadiv" died in Paris and was buried in the Pere Lachaise cemetery. A few months after his death, his wife, Ada, also passed away and was buried beside him.
With the exception of a brief period during World War I, in which the Baron helped the Zionist institutions around the world, Baron Rothschild never ceased his involvement in the colonies until his death. Throughout his life, the Baron invested more than five million pounds in their development; he purchased some 500 square kilometers of land in the Land of Israel and established dozens of settlements, factories, and wineries.

Twenty years after their death, the caskets of Baron Rothschild and his wife Baroness Ada were brought to Israel on board a navy ship of the young Israeli army. "Hanadiv" was brought to eternal rest in a state ceremony at Ramat Hanadiv, located between two settlements - Binyamina and Zichron Ya'akov - which are named after the Baron and his father.
On the day after his burial, the Knesset held a special memorial session in which Prime Minister Moshe Sharett delivered a long speech in memory of the benefactor. Sharett said: "He did not appear like a gracious person, but as a liberator - liberating the masses from their exile, and tracts of land from their desolation... He devoted not only his private fortune to an enterprise that was essentially national - he immersed himself and his soul in activity which he considered holy work."
Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, eulogized the Baron: "I doubt that in the entire history of the Jewish people in the Diaspora, a period of 2000 years, one can find a person who will compare to the wonderful image of the builder of the Jewish community in the modern homeland of our day, the image of Baron Edmond de Rothschild."

As a successor to the philanthropic approach of his grandfather, and flag-bearer of the family's heritage of contributing to building the country, Baron Edmond de Rothschild - grandson of "Hanadiv" - founded the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation. While his grandfather made his mark by purchasing land and settling it, Baron Edmond de Rothschild is remembered for his contribution to the industrialization of the Land of Israel and his generous contributions to educational and cultural institutions.
The 500 square kilometers of land purchased by "Hanadiv" were donated by the family to the State of Israel upon its establishment. About a decade later, at the end of the 1950s, the family transferred the lands of Caesarea (some 30 square kilometers) to the Rothschild Caesarea Foundation and invited the country to be a partner in the fund.
Based on the unique activity model developed by the fund, all proceeds from the development of Caesarea are transferred from the fund's subsidiaries, including the Caesarea Development Corporation and the Caesarea Properties Company, to the philanthropic purposes on which the fund's activities are focused.
The Foundation works to create an inclusive society by promoting excellence, diversity and leadership, to drive social changes, reduce social gaps and foster new leadership through higher education.

With the passing of Baron Edmond de Rothschild, the family's philanthropic funds were transferred to the management of his son, Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. The Baron and his wife, Baroness Ariane de Rothschild, lead the activities of the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation in Israel and abroad, while constantly expanding and developing its activities.

As part of its extensive support of institutions of higher education, the Foundation approved support for the development of the Department of Visual Communication at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. Thanks to its support, the Bezalel campus on Mount Scopus was expanded and the department - considered the leader in its field in Israel - was granted a new and more accommodating space.

The Foundation, spearheading the achievement of higher education in Israel, contributed to the establishment of a new building for the Faculty of Science at the Holon Institute of Technology, one of the most innovative academic institutions in Israel. The building meets all the needs of the faculty and includes classrooms, study and research laboratories, as well as an auditorium.

Thanks to the Foundation's contribution, the "Hall of Names" was re-inaugurated at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum. The Hall of Names - a circular monument with the names of millions of Jews who perished in the Holocaust - contains about 2.7 million original Testimony Pages, along with photographs of Holocaust victims from different countries and backgrounds. A central space was dedicated in the hall for searching the names of those who perished and communing with their memory.

By identifying tangible needs in the Israeli society, the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation began to establish programs on its own initiative, in addition to its long-standing contribution to existing programs. The Foundation's programs, which focus on several specific fields, operate throughout the country to promote excellence and leadership, reduce social gaps, promote equality and broaden opportunities for participants.
Among the Foundation's programs are: the Rothschild-Weizmann Program for Excellence in Science Education (established in 2008); The Ariane de Rothschild program for female doctoral students (2009); Rothschild Cube at Ben-Gurion University (2011); and the Israeli Hope Program in partnership with the President's Residence (2017).

The Benjamin de Rothschild Ambassadors program was established as the flagship program of the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation in order to train the next generation of Israeli social leadership. The program identifies young people from Israel's social and geographical periphery and provides them with tools that will help them make an impact in the fields of society and the economy.
The uniqueness of the BR Ambassadors program lies in the combination of knowledge, awareness, action and social leadership, and the process of personal, academic and employment development. The program operates in ten academic institutions throughout the country, continuing for three years alongside undergraduate studies, and entitles its graduates to a unique social-civic degree.

The issuance of the first social impact bond in Israel, and the first in the world in the area of higher education. The social impact bonds, established in order to reduce the drop-out rate from higher education in Israel, was launched in conjunction with Social Finance Israel (SFI), initiated by the Foundation as an anchor investor and following a pilot which was carried out by the Foundation at the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Academic College.
Impact-Investments are designed to achieve a measurable social return, alongside economic return. The intervention program, initiated by the Aluma Association, aims to reduce the drop-out rate from higher education institutions - in the first stage from the computer science departments at the University of Haifa and the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Academic College, through three main components: scholastic assistance, economic assistance and personal assistance for students, most of them from Israel's social and geographic periphery.

The Edmond de Rothschild Center was established on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, to serve as a home for art and culture. The Center provides students, researchers and graduates of institutions of higher education in Israel with an appropriate space to present their works and to promote lively local cultural discourse. The Center hosts cultural events, exhibitions and lectures in various fields, and encourages original and innovative work.

The Legacy of the Rothschild Family

The Edmond de Rothschild Foundation was founded by the Baron Edmond de Rothschild, grandson of “Hanadiv”. While his grandfather made his mark by purchasing land and settling it, Baron Edmond de Rothschild is remembered for his contribution to the industrialization of the Land of Israel and his generous contributions to educational and cultural institutions.

As successor of his grandfather’s philanthropic path and spearhead of the family’s heritage, Baron Edmond de Rothschild founded the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation in the early 1960s and invited the country to be a partner. According to the unique activity model developed by the foundation, all proceeds from the development of Caesarea are transferred from the Foundation’s subsidiaries – including the Caesarea Development Corporation and the Caesarea assets Corporation- for philanthropic purposes on which the foundation’s activities are focused.

Over the years, the family has stood at the forefront of the effort to nurture an inclusive and collaborative society in Israel, and this vision continues to thrive and be realized among the descendants and followers of “Hanadiv”. Since 1997, upon the passing of Baron Edmond de Rothschild, the foundation’s assets and activities have been transferred to his son, Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. The Baron, along with his wife Baroness Ariane de Rothschild, are deeply committed to family heritage and lead the Foundation’s activities in Israel as part of the network of Edmond de Rothschild foundations operating worldwide.




הברון אדמונד דה רוטשילד - נכדו של הברון הנדיב - מקים הקרן

The Foundation over the years