John Boruchin was born in Poland, and lost most of his family to death camps during World War II. He immigrated to the United States, carved out a career building homes in California, and gradually accumulated a large fortune. At his death he left $100 million to endow a new center devoted to shaping public understanding of Israel in America. The Boruchin Israel Education Advocacy Center, which will be managed by the Jewish National Fund, will run student and faculty exchanges between the U.S. and Israel, organize campus seminars, sponsor young professionals on visits to the Jewish state, run a speaker’s bureau, and otherwise advocate for close ties between the U.S. and Israel.
John Boruchin was an admirer of Ze’ev Jabotinsky—a Russian Jewish journalist and organizer who warned in the decades before the Holocaust that Jews in many countries were “living on the edge of the volcano” and needed a safe sanctuary in their Middle-Eastern homeland, where he proposed creation of a democratic state of Israel. In 2015, amid attacks on Jews in Europe, and the rise of boycott-Israel movements on U.S. campuses, the chairman of the new policy organization created by Boruchin suggested that his gift “comes at a critical period in history, as Israel and world Jewry face serious challenges with rising anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Semitism. This center is needed now more than ever.”