Tag Archives: Diamonds

Jews of the Week: Evelyn de Rothschild & Jacob Rothschild

In honour of Jew of the Week’s 7th birthday this November, we will feature a month-long series on the most famous (and sometimes infamous) Jewish family of all time: the Rothschilds. This is part five of five. Click here for part one, here for part two, here for part three, and here for part four.

Sir Evelyn de Rothschild (Credit: Raul Vasquez/Bloomberg)

Having explored the lives and achievements of the first generations of Rothschilds, we now turn to the Rothschilds of our days. Although the family has grown very large over the centuries, with the number of members in the thousands, two Rothschilds stand out, and are undoubtedly the most famous in modern times. The elder is Evelyn Robert Adrian de Rothschild (b. 1931), who spent part of his childhood in the United States. There he had his first job: distributing soda and sundaes at a pharmacy. This played a role in making him a “chocoholic”, and led to his eventual founding of an award-winning chocolate shop. Evelyn officially joined the family business at age 26, and successfully widened the family fortune. He was made chairman in 1982. He has also served as chairman of The Economist magazine, De Beers diamonds, and IBM UK. In 1989 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and remains her personal financial adviser. Like the rest of his family, Sir Evelyn is a noted philanthropist and patron of the arts. He has donated countless sums, and his Eranda Foundation finances social welfare programs, medical research, education, and art. He has chaired a medical school and an arts academy, and is part of a trust fund that provides scholarships for students with disabilities. (His chocolate shop, too, uses only ethically-sourced cocoa beans, and a portion of all sales is donated to Elephant Family, a nature conservation charity.) Sir Evelyn retired from the family business in 2003, after engineering the merger of the London and Paris Rothschild groups into one company.

Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild

One person who is conspicuously absent from this new Rothschild company is Evelyn’s cousin, Nathaniel Charles Jacob Rothschild (b. 1936), officially the Lord Rothschild. He was the firstborn son of the previous Rothschild baron, thereby inheriting the title. He joined the family business after receiving a Ph.D in history from Oxford University. He expected to eventually take over the family business, but cousin Evelyn was selected instead, leading Jacob to resign in disappointment, and sell his stake in the company. Undeterred, Jacob started his own investment fund and quickly multiplied his fortune (now estimated at $5 billion), proving his doubters wrong. He is a major philanthropist and patron of the arts. One of his pet projects is converting the Waddeston family manor into one of the top museums and art galleries in the world. It attracts half a million visitors a year, and has won a Museum of the Year Award. Jacob has given funds for archaeological research, and large sums to the State of Israel. He chairs Yad HaNadiv, the Israeli arm of The Rothschild Foundation, which invests in Israeli education, environmental restoration, civic projects (including the Knesset, Supreme Court, and National Library buildings), and supports Arab communities. The baron is also president of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. He has won a long list of awards for his philanthropic work and support for the arts, his wisdom and financial acumen. Click here to see a recent documentary about Jacob Rothschild and his family.

Words of the Week

I did not support you and take you under my wing due to your poverty but due to your passion to work and live in the Holy Land, and to live in accordance with the spirit of the Torah.
– Edmond de Rothschild, to farmers in Israel

Jew of the Week: Lev Leviev

King of Diamonds

Lev Leviev

Lev Leviev

Lev Avnerovich Leviev (b. 1956) was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (then part of the USSR) to an observant Bukharian-Jewish family, the son of a mohel. In 1971, the family moved to Israel, where Leviev dropped out of school and apprenticed at a diamond-polishing factory instead. After serving in the IDF, he started his own successful diamond business. When the USSR collapsed, Leviev took advantage of the opportunity to expand his enterprise into the former Soviet Union. With the blessing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, his business flourished tremendously, and Leviev soon expanded his reach into other ventures, including real estate, construction, and the chemical industry. Today, his net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, with diamond mines in Angola, Namibia, Alaska, and Russia. Now the world’s largest diamond cutter and diamond polisher, he has been nicknamed the “King of Diamonds”. Meanwhile, Leviev has joined the ranks of the top Jewish philanthropists in the world, with estimates of donating over $50 million every year. As one of the main financial supporters of Chabad, he has sponsored over 300 rabbis and 10,000 other Chabad staff around the world. A staunch supporter of Israel, Leviev’s philanthropic (and business) activities also include funding Israeli settlements, along with other Israeli institutions. He is also the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS (former Soviet Union), and the president of the World Congress of Bukharian Jews. Leviev’s main charitable organization, the Ohr Avner Foundation (named after his father), funds countless Jewish schools, synagogues, educational institutions, kindergartens, and youth programs in over 500 communities around the world. Incredibly, Leviev also carried on the old family tradition of being mohels, and has performed over one thousand circumcisions himself! He remains fully observant; his businesses closed on Shabbat. Leviev has nine children, and currently resides in London, England.

Words of the Week

For me, Israel, Jerusalem, and Haifa are all the same. So are the Golan Heights. As far as I’m concerned, all of Eretz Israel is holy. To decide the future of Jerusalem? It belongs to the Jewish people. What is there to decide? Jerusalem is not a topic for discussion.
– Lev Leviev