Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion mourns the passing of Morton Mandel, an esteemed friend, honorary alumnus, and supporter for over 25 years. His generosity and vision created major initiatives at HUC-JIR, including the endowment for the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost (2013); ten years of the Mandel Fellows Rabbinic Education Program (2006-2016), to enhance the leadership potential of future rabbis; three years of the Mandel Visionary Leadership Program, educating future rabbinical, cantorial, and education leaders towards excellence in vision, learning, and Jewish identity formation (2017-2019); and the Mandel Recruitment Program (2012). He created the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Endowed Fellowship (2015) and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Digitization Project (2015) at the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, which preserves the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation Records.
Mort Mandel praised HUC-JIR’s students “for their commitment to becoming leaders for the Jewish community throughout North America, Israel, and around the world. Our Jewish future depends, in part, on these students’ capacity to inspire the next generations of knowledgeable and engaged Jews.” In 1986, HUC-JIR honored his dedication to strengthening Jewish leadership with the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel’s immigrant parents, Simon and Rose Mandel, owned a dry goods store in Cleveland. Crediting their mother as their inspiration, the brothers formed Premier Automotive Supply in Cleveland with a $900 investment in 1940. This company evolved into an electronics distribution powerhouse, Premier Industrial Corp. Merging with the British firm Farnell Electronics, Premier Farnell became one of the largest industrial and electronic component suppliers in the world, with Mort Mandel serving as Deputy Chairman.
In 1953, Mort and his brothers founded the Mandel Foundation (now the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation). Their philanthropic focus was leadership development, management of nonprofits, humanities, Jewish life, and urban engagement. Most recently, Mandel was chairman and CEO of Parkwood Corp., an investment firm in Cleveland, and Chairman and CEO of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation.
Mort Mandel will be remembered for his leadership and commitment to helping successive generations discover the meaning and significance of Judaism and Jewish culture, and contributing to the vibrancy of Jewish communities. He leaves an exceptional legacy that will have an impact for generations to come.
Our heartfelt condolences to his wife Barbara, their children, grandchildren and the entire Mandel family.