Morton Mandel, Jewish businessman and philanthropist

by | Oct 28, 2019 | Obituaries

Morton Mandel, a Cleveland businessman who donated tens of millions of dollars to Jewish causes, has died.

Mandel died this month at his home in Florida, according to the Cleveland Jewish News. He was 98.

His family left Poland for the United States in 1913. Mandel was born in Cleveland in 1921.

In 1940, he and his two brothers, Jack and Joseph, founded Premier Industrial Corp., an auto parts distributor that built off their uncle’s small store. It became a worldwide company listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1964 and merged with United Kingdom-based Farnell Electronics in 1996 to form Premier Farnell.

In 1953, the brothers founded the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, which has contributed to a number of Jewish and non-Jewish causes. The foundation has supported institutions including the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University and the Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

In 1990, the foundation launched a branch in Israel to support a range of programs there.

“Mort Mandel was a leader among leaders. The impact that he made in nurturing and growing leadership has without a doubt left a lasting impression on our community and the world. The countless number of leaders impacted because of his vision will be his legacy,” said Jewish Federation of Cleveland President Erika B. Rudin-Luria.

Mandel founded more than a dozen nonprofit organizations and served as president of United Way Services in Cleveland. He received a number of awards for his work, including the Presidential Award for Private Sector Initiatives presented by President Ronald Reagan.

“He left a huge legacy as a lover of Israel, as a Jewish leader, as a philanthropist making change,” said Isaac Herzog, head of the Jewish Agency, which works to build ties between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora. “He will be remembered for his leadership, innovative thinking and his passion for Israel and the Jewish people.”

Mandel was predeceased by his brothers: Jack died in 2011 at 99 and Joseph in 2016 at 102.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara, their three children and seven grandchildren. (JTA)