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Marcus Family Donates $400 Million to BGU

Marcus Family Donates $400 Million to BGU

June 28, 2016

Leadership, Awards & Events

JTA — A $400 million gift to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev from the estate of Howard and Lottie Marcus is believed to be the largest-ever bequest on behalf of an Israeli university.

Howard passed away in 2014 at the age of 104, and Lottie this past December, two months shy of her 100th birthday.

The gift will establish a permanent endowment that is expected to yield assets that more than double the size of the University’s current endowment.

A substantial portion is earmarked for BGU’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, which studies sustainable use of water resources, desalination technologies, water quality, and microbiology.

The Marcuses, who became involved with BGU in the late 90s, were fascinated by the University’s work in desalination and desert farming.

Lottie and Howard Marcus at BGU in 2005

Lottie and Howard Marcus at BGU in 2005

“They believed that peace could come to the Middle East if water scarcity could be addressed,” says Americans for Ben-Gurion University Southwest Regional Director Phillip Gomperts.

Having both fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the Marcuses maintained a lifelong commitment to helping the Jewish State thrive.

“Both Howard and Lottie lost nearly all members of their German-Jewish families — families that were annihilated by the Nazi Holocaust,” says Americans for Ben-Gurion University President Lloyd Goldman.

“Their legacy is a triumph over the forces of evil that very nearly erased them from the face of the earth more than 70 years ago.”

Through a serendipitous encounter, the Marcus family made their fortune investing with legendary investor Warren Buffett, who remembers them fondly.

“We hit it off, and they joined my investment partnership,” Buffet says. “Knowing them, it comes as no surprise that they elected to use their financial success to enhance the lives of thousands of Israeli young people.”

Read more on the JTA website >>