A Man of Many Talents: Sigi Ziering

One small article cannot begin to capture the special quality of Siegfired Ziering. Well-known as a business exec, a scientist, a playwright and a philanthropist, this German-born Jewish man gave of himself to the full.

Born Siegfried, but known as Sigi to his friends and family, Ziering was caught in Europe as a child with his mother and brother during World War II. They managed to survive the Holocaust and were saved by the Swedish Red Cross. In 1949 Ziering came to the US with his family. He earned his degree in Physics from Brooklyn College and received a doctorate in theoretical physics from Syracuse University in 1958.

He began his career at Raytheon working on nuclear reactors in Boston. In 1961 he founded Space Sciences Inc, a government contract research company based in Massachusetts. Only 7 years later the Whittaker Corporation bought Ziering’s company for $1.8 million. With some money in hand Ziering took his family to Los Angeles, where he became the research director at Whittaker.

Later Ziering bought out another company, Diagnostic Products Corp which made drug detection kits. In 1982 this company went public. By 2000 the company had 1700 workers and was selling 400 immunoassay tests and associated equipment. In 2006 Siemens bought the company for $1.86 billion and became one of its subsidiaries, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics.

Ziering wrote a play about an historical figure during the Holocaust, The Judgement of Herbert Bierhoff. The play was first performed in September 1999 with a cast including Jon Voight and Cloris Leachman.

Sigi Ziering was a dedicated philanthropist to Jewish causes. He was the President of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles, endowed a program at Sheba Medical Center in Israel, and was on the Board of Trustees of the American Jewish University in Bel Air. He was also the co-chair of the Los Angeles section of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

Sigi died in 2000 of a brain tumor. His memory will always be for a blessing.


Passing of Susan Wakil

Susan Wakil recently passed away aged 85. Throughout her 62-year marriage to Isaac Wakil, she made a tremendous difference to the lives of many individuals in her community as well as supporting various foundations.  Indeed, the generosity she extended in her life was termed “exceptional” by Vic Alhadeff, CEO of NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

Wakil supported the Sydney Jewish Museum and Robert Schneider its development director said that:

“Her name will live on at the museum through the Susan Wakil AO Chair of Education, and also through the dedication, by Susan, in 2015 of the museum’s lower ground floor in memory of her late parents.”

This sentiment was echoed by Peter Wertheim, Chairman of the Fund for Jewish Higher Education who said that Susan and Isaac had been “wonderfully generous benefactors….[with their] support [making] a significant contribution to tertiary-level Jewish studies and teacher training at the University of Sydney.”

Other tributes that came in included those from key leaders at the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, the University of Sydney and the Art Gallery of NSW Board of Trustees, St. Vincent Hospital, disadvantaged school students, among others. The Wakils received the Australian Award in 2017.

Jewish People like to Give

givingThere is a fundamental principle in Judaism of giving to worthy causes.  A report in a charitable analysis organization Connected to Give, a few years ago found that “most American Jews are charitable.”

And it’s not just to their own that they are giving.  The report further discovered that of those Jews who give (more than three-quarters), 92% give to a non-Jewish organization and 79% to a Jewish one.

According to the National Study of American Jewish Giving and the National Study of American Religious Giving, in 2012 median annual donations totaled $1,200.  It also seems that the more involved the Jewish people are in “causes connected with their faith”

It seems also that Jews are more generous than their non-Jewish counterparts, given that:

“Fifty-four percent of Jews in the study are more likely to give to social-service charities than to their religious congregations, compared with 41 percent of donors in the study who are not Jewish.. based on a survey of 2,911 Jewish and 1,951 non-Jewish households, as well as a series of focus groups that included Jewish donors, leaders of Jewish nonprofits, and advisers to foundations and Jewish donors.”

Data shows again and again that giving to charitable causes is important to Jewish people.


Isaias Hellman and the Building of California

An 1857 sketch of Isaias W. Hellman’s first store in Los Angeles. He would become a very successful banker, president of Wells Fargo Bank and a co-founder of the University of Southern California. It was located at Temple and Main streets.

Isaias Hellman came to the United States way back in 1859 when he was just 17 years old, with his brother Herman, from Germany. The brothers traveled on the steamer Hammonia, which left Hamburg and arrived in Los Angeles on May 14, joining their cousins who had already laid down roots. Another brother, James Hellman, arrived later. The Hellman family also had four sisters.

Isaias began his career working at his cousin’s dry goods store, but soon he transformed himself into a banker, inadvertently. As a courtesy Isaias kept gold and other valuables for his customers in a safe in his store. One day, a customer who was drunk, kept taking out his gold from the safe. When he sobered up he realized he had spent almost all his gold on whiskey, so he got angry and tried to hit Isaias. After that, Hellman printed up business cards, calling himself I.W. Hellman, Banker. He then began to buy people’s funds, issuing deposit books for the money.

Together with Francisco Temple, a member of the first Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, he founded Temple and Company, the city’s second official bank. Hellman invested in trolley lines, and many of the city’s other rail lines. He also supported the development of the city’s water, gas and electric companies. He was also instrumental in bringing the Southern Pacific Railroad to LA in 1876, opening the city to the rest of the country.

Hellman also purchased large swaths of land, such as Rancho Cucamonga, Rancho Los Alamitos, the Repetto Ranch which became Montebello, Rancho san Pedro and Boyle Heights.

In 1879 Hellman donated some of his land for use by a board of trustees to create the University of Southern California. In 1881 Hellman was appointed a Regents of the University of California, and then in 1890 Hellman moved to San Francisco. After the earthquake and subsequent fire of 1906 Hellman was instrumental in helping to rebuild the city. Hellman died in 1920, leaving behind his wife Esther Newgass and three children.

To learn more about this amazing man and how he changed the face and history of California, read “Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California.”

Good Deed Day!

good-deedEarlier this month more than 350 Jewish volunteers participated in Temple Emanu-El’s community day of giving.

Members of the Sarasota-Manatee local synagogue took part in included: lunch bag preparation for the homeless; wrapping books donated by the Kaplan Foundation to Manatee County’s Oneco Elementary School; baking treats and food for dogs for the Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue and sorting food for All Faiths Food Bank, etc.

According to Rabbi Elaine Glickman of Temple Emanu-El:

 “It feels amazing. One of the primary Jewish teachings is that the way we serve God is by serving God’s creatures — human beings and humanity. One of the ways we do that is by participating in Mitzvah Day. It is a privilege and a responsibility being a Jewish person and being a synagogue member to do that.”

Three moms involved wanted to do an event for kids under 10 with their families for free.  Art in the park was held from 1 to 3pm at Newtown Estates Park.  At the event were bouncy castles, fighters, face-painting and performances from Sarasota’s Sailor Circus Academy students.

This event is one of just many in which individuals volunteer their time and resources for the benefit of others.

South Carolina’s Only Billionaire is a Jewish Woman: Anita Zucker

The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Anita Zucker was born Anita Goldberg in 1952. After getting an undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and a Master of Arts from the University of North Florida, Anita married Jerry Zucker and moved to the Charleston, South Carolina in 1978.

Together the couple started their family business InterTech in 1982. Over the years the company succeeded fabulously, and now owns the Carolina Stingrays hockey team, the Carolina Ice Palace, and some local restaurants. When her husband died in 2008 Anita took over as the first, and so far, only, woman to hold the job of chairperson of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Anita’s net worth is estimated to be about $2.5 billion, but she often states that she would rather be known for her good works than for her vast wealth. Explaining that her and her husband embraced the concept of “tikkun olam,” repairing the world, she said:

“They only see dollar signs. They don’t look at what is behind that,” she says. “I don’t want to be in the news because of money.”

As such, Anita has become one of the most active philanthropist in the region, sitting on many boards and pledging many dollars to good causes. She pledged $1 million to Lowcountry Giving Day, and is on the boards of:

• Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
• Trident United Way
• MUSC Foundation
• Porter-Gaud School
• Coastal Community Foundation
and many more.

“I invest in people,” Zucker says. “I want to help people’s lives get better.”

The Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award

Given all of the good deeds and generosity Stanley Golder (1929-2000) displayed throughout his lifetime, it is not surprising that a tribute was  made in his name.  The Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award was established in the memory of Golder’s honor – a “founding board member of Golden Apple, whose energy, creativity, and commitment to Golden Apple’s mission set the highest standard in pursuit of our mission.”

Together with his wife, in 1994 he was awarded the Human Rights Medallion from the American Jewish Committee as well.  He had already donated $1.5 million to the UIUC, which resulted in the endowment of the Stanley C. and Joan J. Golder Distinguished Chair in Corporate Finance.

Golder was also a founding board member of Golden Apple.  He was known for his “energy, creativity and commitment to [the organization’s] mission [which] set the highest standard for dedication and accomplishment.”