A MODEST MILLIONAIRE
From The Jerusalem Report, issue dated June 18, 2012
FROM THE EDITOR / MATTHEW KALMAN
WHEN ISRAELIS SING “IF I WERE A rich man” in Hebrew, they sing “If I were a Rothschild.” It’s not often you get to meet someone whose very name is a legend, so I tagged along when Robert Slater went to interview Lord Jacob Rothschild for our cover story.
It was the first time that Lord Rothschild has spoken publicly in any detail about the work of Yad Hanadiv, the foundation established by his cousin Baron Edmond de Rothschild a century ago, and a rare chance to encounter one of the leading financiers of the age.
It was an extraordinary, wide-ranging conversation in which the fourth baron parried a barrage of queries about his family, his fortune and his philanthropy with patient good humor. He had some candid comments about the shortcomings of the world banking system and spoke with feeling about the future of his storied family.
But what surprised me most about the good lord was his modesty.
In stark contrast to many other super-rich visitors to Jerusalem, he arrived almost incognito, without a retinue of gatekeepers and entirely devoid of the flashing lights, outriders and chase cars that have become de rigueur for many modern millionaires visiting the country. In keeping with a deep commitment to the environment, Lord Rothschild eschews private jets, that symbol of modern success, and flies by scheduled airline.
Nor do the riches simply mount. Lord Rothschild said it had been “hard work” to take the 94 million pounds bequeathed to him by his cousin Dorothy de Rothschild and multiply it as he has done to finance the foundation’s growing activities.
Lord Jacob is joined in this issue by another legend, Philip Roth, whose era-defining Portnoy’s Complaint is the subject of a thorough, and thoroughly entertaining, literary and historical analysis by the Jerusalem-based historian and essayist Bernard Avishai. The Report is proud to bring you this exclusive extract from Avishai’s book Promiscuous, published by Yale University Press.
Elsewhere, Bernard Dichek traveled to Addis Ababa to unravel the mystery of the 3,000 so-called Falash Mura stranded in dreadful conditions awaiting permission to emigrate to Israel. Linda Gradstein visited Save a Child’s Heart, an Israeli charity that provides life-saving operations to infant patients from all over the world. Jeff Moskowitz hung out with the drag queens of Jerusalem, while Ziv Hellman met the scientists helping to digitize modern farming and Shlomo Maital met the Israeli inventor who enabled the paraplegic hero Claire Lomas to complete this year’s London Marathon.
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