A recent profile of investor and philanthropist David Sanford “Sandy” Gottesman noted a rather remarkable fact: both of his parents’ family have been generous contributors to Jewish causes in the land of Israel for nearly 150 years.
Gottesman’s grandfather Mendel, who came to the United States in the 1880’s, attained success in newsprint and banking. Mendel left part of his fortune to build homes in Jerusalem, in addition to funds allocated to help establish Yeshiva University.
Gottesman’s maternal family, the Garfunkels, came to the United States before the Civil War. Moses Garfunkel sent money to Sir Moses Montefiore to support the purchase of land in Palestine for those making aliyah.
The family does not court publicity, and it’s rare that they consent to interviews. An occasion when Gottesman did agree to speak about his charitable giving came in 2016 when he acknowledged to a Jerusalem Post reporter that he contributed a major gift along with that of Sir Jacob Rothchild, to fund the new building of the Israel National Library. Already past his ninetieth birthday, he said that he hoped to live long enough to see it open in 2020.
A study of the Gottesman Fund’s philanthropy reveals key support for dozens of projects in Israel, including the well-loved Derech Milton Bike Path and the Middle East’s first and only aquarium, located in Jerusalem. Other gifts by the Gottesman family include the construction of over 250 state of the art school libraries throughout the state and support to Birthright Israel.