Los ANgels, CA – A Jewish power couple from Los Angeles whose charitable foundation has given away $420 million over the past 19 years has been recognized by The Hollywood Reporter, making the front cover of magazine’s philanthropy issue.
Haim and Cheryl Saban have a combined net worth of $3.2 billion, according to Hollywood Reporter (http://bit.ly/30uYhGF) and they contribute 13 percent of their income to charity. Donations are made according to a strict formula: for every dollar donated in America, another is given to Israel.
“I was an immigrant twice, once from Egypt and once from Israel,” explained Haim Saban. “Israel opened its arms and took me in and America opened her arms and I’m an American citizen now.”
Saban was born in Alexandria, Egypt, a place where Jews were not welcomed warmly. Hoping to escape the persecution they faced in their hometown, the family moved to a one room apartment in Tel Aviv, where Saban’s father sold pencils door to door in order to be able to feed his family.
Saban was serving in the Israel Defense Forces when he booked his first gig for a non-existent band, creating one on the spot to honor his commitment even though he had no prior experience with musical instruments of any sort, reported Forbes (http://bit.ly/30pXir9).
Saban parlayed his experiences in the world of music into a successful record label, eventually becoming a big player in the world of entertainment and creating the mega successful Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. A businessman, investor and media entrepreneur who owns a significant share of Univision Communications where he serves as chairman, the 74 year old billionaire was ranked as the 232nd richest person in America by Forbes in 2017.
At 68 years old, Cheryl Saban has served as the president and driving force behind the Saban Family Foundation since its inception in 2000. Like her husband, Cheryl Saban grew up in a home where money was tight and the trained psychologist and former United Nations delegate who has authored several self help books and trained to be a baby cuddler at a neonatal intensive care unit. She was raised in a home where charity was a high priority, despite their limited resources.
“We would find ways to give back to the community that didn’t require money,” recalled Cheryl Saban.
Haim Saban also showed a penchant for giving at a young age. Receiving a box of chocolates as a birthday gift one year, the young Saban shared the confections with those around him. Everyone had an opportunity to enjoy the rare treat, with Saban leaving none for himself.
The Sabans have donated more than $55 million to Friends of the IDF and are strong supporters of Birthright Israel which sponsors 50,000 free trips to Israel each year for Jewish young adults between the ages of 18 and 26, hoping to inspire participants with a love of the land while also strengthening their Jewish identities. Other causes that are and recipients of their largesse are health care, Los Angeles cultural and civic groups, women’s rights and veterans.
Saban noted that drumming up financial support for Israel has not always been easy and he noted that the Jewish state could be doing more to demonstrate the importance of the American-Israeli relationship.
A framed quotation in his office bears the words of Alexander Haig, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, which reads “Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not carry even one American soldier and is located in a critical region for American national security.”
“There is a certain tension, but is that tension something that was always there but not expressed?” pondered Saban. “I don’t know. There is a famous saying that anti-Semitism is a light sleeper and it doesn’t take much to wake it.”
Saban took Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to task for saying that there is a massacre taking place in Gaza and then noting that she had to study the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“So here she made a statement that is pretty scary and pretty compelling but misinformed,” said Saban. “Why don’t you go study and then make a statement?”
Well known for the tens of millions they have donated to political campaigns, the Sabans have declined to back any Democratic presidential hopefuls at this time, saying only that they would not support Bernie Sanders. Saban described Sanders as “a disaster zone” and “a communist under the cover of being a socialist.”
“I love it when Bernie says, ‘I recognize Israel’s right to exist,’” said Saban. “That’s how he expresses his support of Israel. Well, thank you so very much. Are you out of your freaking mind? Oh, I’m allowed to live. Hallelukah, praise the Lord.”
While the Sabans have supported many Israeli causes, there was at least one that they declined to fund – Israel’s lunar space mission.
“We’ve got so many problems on Earth, why are we going to the moon?” asked Saban. “Let somebody else go to the moon – the United States, China. Israel, forget about the moon.”