Philanthropist Mandel passes away at 99
Jack N. Mandel, a major benefactor whose foundation with his younger brothers created the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education and the Mandel Center for the Humanities, died May 12 at the age of 99, according to a May 16 BrandeisNOW press release.Members of the Mandel family were not available for comment by press time.
"[Mandel's death is] a big loss, obviously, to the Mandel family and therefore to the entire Brandeis family," University President Frederick Lawrence said in an interview with the Justice. Lawrence added that because he started his term as president in January, he did not have the chance to form a personal relationship with Mandel.
"Jack Mandel was a very gentle, very wise, very generous person. [He] always had a smile on his face, always engaged everybody he met in conversation, always had something interesting to say," University President Emeritus Jehuda Reinharz, who knew Mandel for 10 years, said in an interview with the Justice.
Mandel was born in Kolbusowa, Poland and moved to the United States when he was 9 years old, according to the press release. Along with his brothers Joseph and Morton, Mandel established the Mandel Foundation in 1953 to "help provide outstanding leadership for the nonprofit world," according to the foundation's website. Reinharz is the current president and CEO of the foundation.
The Mandel Center for the Humanities was created in 2010 with a $22.5 million grant from the foundation. At the Oct. 26 dedication ceremony, then-University President Reinharz said that it was the largest grant ever given by the foundation and that it is also among the largest gifts given to support the humanities in the United States. The Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education was created in 2002 with the support of the same foundation.
In addition to his commitment to the Foundation, Mandel served on the boards of the Montefiore care center, which provides support services for Cleveland's aging Jewish and general community; the Cleveland Sight Center, which provides rehabilitation services for the blind and visually impaired; and the Cleveland Play House, a professional regional theater, according to the press release. The press release also states that he was a life trustee of The Temple-Tifereth Israel and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.
Reflecting on Mandel's roots as a Polish immigrant, Reinharz said that Mandel's is a "story of great success and a wonderful example of paying forward, of giving back to society and feeling good about it."
Reinharz also said that the Mandel brothers started the foundation "before they had a lot of money all the way back in 1953 and so it's remarkable that [Jack] and his brothers have ingrained in them the notion of giving back to society that they've never stopped doing to this very day."
Prof. Sharon Feiman-Nemser (NEJS), the director of the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, said in an interview with the Justice, "[Mandel] had a very warm and winning smile.
He, like his brothers, was very modest and gracious. I was very touched by the loving, warm relationship among the three brothers." She said that she had the opportunity to meet Mandel twice.
Mandel is survived by his brothers; sister-in-law and Brandeis trustee Barbara A. Mandel; a son, Sheldon Mandel; and several nieces and nephews, according to the press release.