Here is a sampling of a several individuals who support Chabad as reported in the press.
Levi Leviev. Mr. Leviev is a humble person. His involvement in Chabad dates back to his great-grandfather who was saved by the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, and grandfather, who was educated by one of the Rebbe Rashab’s students. Ever since then, his family felt indebted to Lubavitch. However it wasn’t until Levi that this debt was repaid with dollar bills. Soon after his father Avner passed away, Levi realized an opportunity to memorialize his father in the greatest way: He would create the Ohr Avner-Lubavitch organization. He would fund schools and other educational institutions throughout the greater Belorussia, Ukraine and other areas where Chabad had many emissaries. Now, some twenty years later, the name Levi Leviev, Ohr Avner, and Chabad are synonymous.
Vyacheslav (Yitzchak) Mirilashvili. Yitzchak is a staunch supporter of Chabad in Israel. Recently he sold his stake in the Russian social network he cofounded, VKontakte, to United Capital Partners (UCP) for an undisclosed amount. Mirilashvili owned forty percent of the company. The word on the street is that Mirilashvili received between 1.2 to 1.8 billion dollars. He immediately gave ten percent (120–180 million) to a Chabad charity and appointed Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, Moshe Shilat of Toras Chabad l’Bnei HaYeshivos in Israel, and Rabbi Lipsker from Kfar Chabad, Israel to distribute the funds. Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot told me he heard that Rabbis Shilat and Lipsker have helped Yitzchak Mirilashvili become more observant of Judaism.
Ronald Perelman. Mr. Perelman has been tied with Chabad for years. Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, the Rebbe’s emissary to the state of Pennsylvania and White House has Mr. Perelman as a donor. His influence on Perelman doesn’t only involve the millions he gives yearly to Shemtov’s Chabad projects, but more importantly Perelman keeps kosher in his multiple homes and travels with the required ten men for a minyan whenever he takes long trips.
Rohr Philanthropy. The financial support of the Rohr family of Bal Harbour, Florida and Manhattan, New York is one of the main reasons why Chabad has enjoyed their thriving success in the last twenty years. I refer specifically to the late Sammy Rohr, the father figure of today’s Rohr dynasty and George Rohr, Sammy’s son, who continues in the spirit of his father’s generosity. Before delving into their particular generosity, a little family background about Sammy is proper.
Sammy was born in 1926 in Berlin, where his father, Oskar Rohr, was what he once described as one of the city’s “leading real estate men.” In 1938 the family left Germany, 13 days after Kristallnacht, finding refuge first in Antwerp, Belgium, and then in Lyon, France, before fleeing to Switzerland in 1943. When Rohr’s parents were taken to a refugee camp in Morgins, he was sent to a children’s home near Basel, from which he was taken and cared for by Shlomo Zalman and Recha Feldinger. After moving to Paris with his family following the war, Rohr left in 1950 for Colombia, where his aunt was then living. There he became a real estate magnate, almost single-handedly developing the west side of the city. In 1953 he married Charlotte Kastner, a survivor of Auschwitz who had immigrated to Chile and with whom he had a son, George, and daughters Evelyn and Lillian. Charlotte passed away in 2007. “The Rohrs were embracing, warm, charming and really worldly people with a tremendous sense of Yiddishkeit and of doing good,” remembered Danièle Gorlin Lassner, a former dean of admissions and head of the foreign languages department at The Ramaz School in Manhattan. In the 1960s and ’70s, Lassner and her husband, Jules Lassner, lived in Bogotá. There she first met Charlotte Rohr at the city’s kosher butcher shop. When Lassner started a Hebrew school in the city, the Rohrs were among her first supporters, and their children her first students.
The family left Colombia in 1981 because of rising crime and settled in Bal Harbour, Florida where they became a fixture of the local Jewish community and helped establish a synagogue. While still in Bogotá they had been active in efforts to bring a Lubavitch emissary to the city, and in the United States they continued their support for the Chasidic movement, which is known for its outposts all over the globe.
Ezra Glitzner of the New York Jewish Forward newspaper quotes Professor Sam Heilman: “They took their real estate money and said, ‘We don’t need buildings, but we’d like to be responsible for someone who has an influence in resurrecting Jewry.’ I think Chabad meant that to them.”
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