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The Eulogizer: British entrepreneur David Lewis

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Learn about their achievements, honor their memories and celebrate Jewish lives well lived with The Eulogizer. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org. Read previous columns here.

David Lewis, 87, British entrepreneur

David Lewis, a British businessman and entrepreneur who was a founder of one of Israel’s largest hotel chains, died Aug. 9 at 87.

Lewis’ business legacy in Israel is the Isrotel chain of hotels. Isrotel’s Carmel Spa Forest Resort near Haifa is regularly cited as one of Israel’s best.

Lewis devoted himself to the Isrotel chain after selling the clothing store chain River Island, which he and his brother established in 1947. River Island now has more than 300 stores throughout Great Britain.

After opening the King Solomon Hotel in Eilat in the 1980s, Isrotel grew as Lewis channeled his lifelong Zionism into the chain. In 2009, Israeli President Shimon Peres inaugurated the David Lewis Promenade in Eilat in his honor.

Lewis’ involvement with Israel included regularly paying for disabled Israeli veterans to stay in his beach hotels and patronage of Schneider Children’s Medical Center near Tel Aviv. He also was a backer of the Israel Centre for Social and Economic Progress, a free-market think tank, and of Conservative Friends of Israel.

Last October, the then-Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ron Prosor, said that "David revolutionized Israeli tourism. Before him, the Red Sea was unchartered territory."

Lewis, born David Pokrasse in London, left school at 16 to work as an errand boy. He served in the RAF during World War II as a navigator. In 2010, Lewis made the largest contribution by a veteran to the Bomber Command Association’s appeal for the new memorial, which will be erected next year at the Hyde Park Corner end of Green Park because “the deaths of 55,000 of his fellow aviators of Bomber Command remained with him to the end of his days.” 

He was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire medal in 1995.

More on Noach Flug, Holocaust survivor

Here is a link to a remarkable audio interview with Holocaust survivor and longtime economist and Israeli diplomat Noach Flug, who died Aug. 11 at 86. In the recording, Flug offers to show Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has publicly denied the Holocaust, around Auschwitz to explain to him what happened in the death camp.

More on Rabbi Jacob Max and his ‘mixed legacy’

It’s worth reading this lengthy and nuanced article from the Jewish Times about Baltimore Rabbi Jacob Max, who died Aug. 9 at 87. Max was the rabbi of Liberty Jewish Center for more than 50 years and was “a man known for officiating at seemingly countless weddings and funerals, and whose legacy was tarnished by his 2009 molestation conviction,” Times Senior Editor Alan Feiler wrote. Feiler quoted Rabbi Mitchell Ackerson, director of pastoral care and chaplaincy at Sinai Hospital, as saying that “Jack was a very loyal friend, but he was also an enigma wrapped in a mystery.”

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