WASHINGTON (JTA) – Bernard Rapoport, a major backer of Bill Clinton and of Democrats, has died.
B. Rapoport, as he was known, died April 5 in Waco, in his native Texas, the Texas Tribune reported. He was 94.
Rapoport, who made his fortune in the insurance industry, was close to the Clintons and a major backer of the National Jewish Democratic Council.
The child of Russian Jewish immigrants to San Antonio, he cited his father’s experiences in Tzarist Russia as well as the anti-Semitism and racism he witnessed in his own youth in explaining his progressive politics.
He donated $46 million in 1987 to start the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation, which focuses on educational, healthcare and cultural programs that benefit youth, principally in the Waco area. The Rapoports recently celebrated a 70th wedding anniversary.
"B was such an ardent and fierce liberal, and proud of it — very much a product of his progressive Jewish roots," NJDC President David Harris said in a statement. "It was this background of Jewish values that led him to be a kingmaker within the Democratic Party, sitting with presidents, senators and representatives alike. And it was these same Jewish values that drove him to be so profoundly generous philanthropically — and to return to committed Jewish ritual practice later in life."