Robert K. Kraft (b. 1941) was born in Brookline, Massachusetts to an observant Jewish family. His father was a teacher and prayer leader at the local Congregation Kehillath Israel and his mother was a dressmaker. Despite coming from modest means, scholarships allowed him to study and graduate from both Harvard and Columbia University (where he was a member of the Jewish fraternity Zeta Beta Tau, and the school’s football team). In 1967, Kraft entered the world of business when he bought his father-in-law’s packaging company. Five years later, he started his own paper commodity business. Kraft built the two companies into a paper empire, the largest in the US, and one of the country’s top 100 exporters. In 1986, Kraft got into media, investing in TV and radio stations, film, theatre, and entertainment. Around this time, he bought the stadium of the New England Patriots football team, which was going into bankruptcy. By the mid-90’s, the team continued its terrible streak, having never won a Superbowl, and was about to be sold and moved to St. Louis. Kraft stepped in to save his beloved team, paying a record $175 million to purchase it, despite its horrible standing and poor value. Kraft immediately turned the fortunes of the sports franchise around. The following year, the Patriots sold out tickets to every home game for the first time in their history, and have sold out every year since then. They made the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade, and have since won four Superbowls, including one last weekend. Kraft also plays a central role in the NFL at large, and was credited with saving the 2011 season and bringing about a 10-year contract to keep the league running. Meanwhile, he also owns the New England Revolution MLS soccer team. Kraft is a noted philanthropist, having donated over $100 million to various causes including universities, schools, and research centers, victims of terrorism, as well as Israeli causes. Among the latter is helping Israel’s struggling Ethiopian Jewish community, and spreading the game of football in the Holy Land, sponsoring the Israel Football League, and building the Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem. For his efforts, Kraft has won a number of prestigious awards and honorary degrees. With a net worth estimated at $4 billion, he continues to rank among the richest Americans.
Words of the Week
God’s words to Adam (Genesis 3:9), “Where are you?” is a perpetual call to every person, at all times. God calls out to each and every one of us every moment of the day: “Where are you in the world? You have been allotted a certain number of days, hours, and minutes in which to fulfill your mission in life. You have lived so many years and so many days – Where are you? What have you accomplished?”
– Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi