Defending not only the Jewish homeland but also their way of life and pride is what Adam Milstein has written a lot about lately. He published an article in the Jewish News Syndicate in which he disclosed that he was forming a task force of Jewish-Americans committed to fighting the spread of antisemitism. This task force has been planned with the help of Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban, two men who each support different political parties but who each have a desire to stop hate against the Jewish community. Milstein has compared what today’s Jews will need to do as part of this task force with what Judas Maccabeus did in the ancient world when he used his ingenuity to defeat Greek oppressors. Adam Milstein believes the foundation to the ultimate defeat of antisemitism are Jews looking out for each other and supporting Israel even if they don’t agree with all of its politics.
Israel is a very near and dear place to Adam Milstein because he grew up in Haifa and witnessed many of the wars they had throughout the 1950s, 60s and even as he served in their military in the 1970s. He was in the battalion commanded by Ariel Sharon that captured Egyptian territories during the Yom Kippur War, and he’s made several references to the tactical maneuvers Israel has made in defeating its enemies. Milstein attended the Technion Institute during his undergraduate school years and then finished a master’s degree at Univesity of Southern California. He developed an acumen for making investments in residential and commercial properties which led to him starting Hager Pacific Properties along with David Hager and Robert Neal, and the company has billions in property assets under management.
Adam Milstein wanted to build collaborations between leaders like Adelson and Saban and involve various rabbis and other synagogue board members, so he founded the Milstein Family Foundation and the Israeli-American Council to do so. The largest group his philanthropy is directed at is Jewish college students, and organizations like Hillel International and Hasbara Fellowships exist to give those students a voice. Milstein also is a board member of StandWithUs which promotes Israeli causes through mass media distribution.
Dick DeVos has made philanthropy a major hallmark of his career both in business and civic duty. The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation has been the driving force behind much of his charity work, and he’s made a huge impact in the Grand Rapids area both in urban development and in local education. Dick and his wife Betsy certainly are Republican Party activists, including when Betsy served as chair in the Michigan Republican Party. But the DeVos’s contributions to local hospitals, colleges, libraries, museums and even churches have far outweighed any political donations. Most people have wondered how much the Dick DeVos’s give in charity each year, and it was recently disclosed that Dick and Betsy’s lifetime giving totals around $139 million.
Dick DeVos has been able to establish his philanthropy work in the Grand Rapids area due largely to his success as the owner of the Windquest Group and CEO of Amway Corporation prior to that. Amway Corporation was founded by Dick’s father, Richard DeVos Sr. who is also the owner of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. As CEO of Amway Corporation, Dick was responsible for multilevel marketing operations of the company from the manufacturing of its products, to the sales and distributions to independent business owners who could in turn sell the products to their customers. As Chairman of The Windquest Group, Dick has built a portfolio of investments in local Michigan businesses that specialize in clean energy technology, venture capital, clean bottled water products and home storage units.
Dick and Betsy have long fought for school of choice and more freedom in education decisions. Dick at one time won election to the Michigan State Board of Education where he worked to reform education policies. He later helped start the Education Freedom Fund to supply scholarship programs for low income families to attend private schools. The DeVos’s also launched the Great Lakes Education Project in 2002, and in 2010 they founded the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a special charter school with a curriculum based in aviation.
As a political activist and a staunch believer in free market economics, Dick DeVos at one time decided he needed to change the economic climate in Michigan by running for governor in 2006. He was unsuccessful in that endeavor, but in 2012 he joined a coalition of Republicans who fought to bring in a right-to-work law. Dick and Betsy continue to fight for education reform across the nation, and will have even more leverage to do so as Betsy was recently chosen by President Donald Trump to be Secretary of Education.