The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation in Israel hosted a virtual memorial ceremony to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Morton L. Mandel, the Foundation’s co-founder, first Chairman, and former CEO. Participating in the ceremony were Steve Hoffman, Board Chair, and Jehuda Reinharz, President and CEO of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation. The local Mandel community and Board members of the Foundation and Parkwood LLC were also in attendance.
Broadcasted from the Foundation’s new building in Jerusalem, the ceremony was hosted by Moshe Vigdor, Director General of the Mandel Foundation–Israel. “This past year has been a year of upheavals,” he said at the beginning of the ceremony, “and we all feel Mort’s absence as a leader, a teacher, and a founding father. We miss Mort every day and every hour. We are especially aware of his absence now that the Foundation has moved to its beautiful new building, a home that Mort initiated. Mort was greatly involved in the details of its planning and design, and his legacy is deeply rooted in the Mandel Foundation’s building here in Jerusalem.”
Recalling that Mort used to joke that whether he is in this world or beyond, he will always be watching and will want reports on how the Foundation is faring, Jehuda Reinharz presented a brief “annual report” to the late founder. He described the Foundation’s achievements during the past year, taking particular pride in the Foundation’s contributions during the COVID pandemic to disadvantaged populations and to initiatives in Israel and the United States in need of support. “We think about you all the time,” he said to Mort. “We cite your words of wisdom and we tell your stories … and most of all, we miss you very much.”
Steve Hoffman recalled that “At the beginning of the year, we lost Mort and then Barbara. We faced the new year without our founders, but committed to carrying on their legacy through our work. I think Mort would have been pleased with the way his plans for the future began to be implemented, with a fully engaged board of trustees, and an excellent staff leadership team.”
In a video clip produced for the ceremony, Mandel program graduates spoke of the impact that Mort had on their lives, the way their studies at Mandel contributed to their professional development, and the importance of the Mandel Foundation in education and society in Israel. “How did Mandel impact me?” summed up Tzipora Gutman, graduate of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership and founder of the Kfar Shira residential school for ultra-Orthodox young women, “with infinite goodness. Truly infinite.”
Musical works by Salamone Rossi and George Frideric Handel, which were performed by the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra, enhanced the ceremony. The event concluded with a fascinating lecture on examples of leadership in Hebrew poetry by Mandel faculty member Professor Ariel Hirschfeld, a professor of Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Scores of Mandel graduates, fellows, and employees viewed the moving ceremony online as it was broadcast from Jerusalem. The new fellows may not have had the privilege of meeting Mort Mandel – an esteemed leader, generous philanthropist, lover of Israel, and source of inspiration – but his wisdom and values are being passed on to them, and they will continue his legacy.
The video link to the ceremony is here.