“Julius Rosenwald: Repairing the World” by Hasia Diner— A Visionary

Diner, Hasia. “Julius Rosenwald: Repairing the World”, Yale, 2017.

A Visionary

Amos Lassen

Julius Rosenwald was a” humble retail magnate whose visionary ideas about charitable giving transformed the practice of philanthropy in America and beyond”. I found this book particularly fascinating since his daughter, Mrs. Edgar B. Stern was a great patron of the city of New Orleans, my hometown, and we all grew up hearing about the wonderful things her family had done.

Julius Rosenwald (1862–1932) was born into a family of modest means. He was the son of a peddler yet he amassed great wealth as the man at the helm of Sears, Roebuck. His most important legacy, however, was not in the field of business but rather in the changes he introduced to the practice of philanthropy. He did this anonymously and refused to have his name attached to the buildings, projects, or endowments that he supported. Rosenwald’s most passionate support was for Jewish and African American causes continues to influence lives to this day.

Writer Hasia Diner looks at his attitudes toward his own wealth and his distinct ideas about philanthropy and in doing so, she posits an intimate connection between his Jewish consciousness and his involvement with African Americans. We read of his belief in the importance of giving in the present in order to impact the future, and how he encouraged beneficiaries to become partners in community institutions and projects. We see a truly compassionate man whose generosity and wisdom transformed the practice of philanthropy.

Rosenwald had three great missions: Jewish opportunity; African American progress; and advancement of the national ideal of exceptionalism. His story is one for the ages and Diner has given us a wonderful look at a man who did so much.

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