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
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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 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.
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 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.