MAKING A DIFFERENCE

1_Sticky_Feature_Making_A_Difference_1117A Commitment to Children BENNY MOR WAS on his way to South America from his native land of Israel when he stopped at the United States. He never left. Mor had been born in Israel and came from a very traditional family. His grandfather, who had arrived in 1885 along with his parents, was involved in the foundation of the country and built a synagogue in Jerusalem in 1903 which is still preserved today. Mor served in the Israeli Army commanding and educating soldiers in anti-aircraft missile batteries. He then traveled to London, England where he worked for the Israeli Secret Service.

In the past 33 ½ years Mor has lived in the US, and has built very successful businesses. He owns a diamond cutting company, a wholesale jewelry manufacturing company, and also has a venture with a private fund that buys and lends on luxury assets. But at his heart, Benny is a family man – a proud father of three children – and it is children that have been a main focus of his life. In this spirit, Mor established the B. Mor Summer Intensive Scholarship sponsoring scholarships for four young students to the Summer Intensive Program at Backhausdance company. The company offers programs to kids from all over the country with an interest in dance but who do not have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Backhaus helps these kids come to dance camps and have experiences that often make a profound difference in their lives. On August 5th, the culmination of 2-3 week dance intensives came to fruition. The four aspiring dancers displayed their newly polished talents and wowed the audience with renditions of Backhausdance’s past performances from “Then & Now: A Choreographic Retrospective.” One of the aspiring dancers is now a Trainee with the Company. Mor is also interested in public school education. In California almost 30% of all public schools’ funding is raised at the local level. Of this about 20% is raised via taxes leaving the last 10% to be raised by other means. In many cases it is left up to the parents of the students to make up this money.

Mor’s company served as a title sponsor in the Andersen DEANS foundation’s charity golf tournament at Oak Creek Golf Club. This 20-year-old nonprofit founded by the parents of the Ports Street neighborhood in Newport Beach, held the tournament to benefit their children’s school. Other community partners participated as well: Fresh Brothers Pizza and the Anaheim Ducks. Mor sees this as a model for what other communities can do. By engaging with and involving businesses in other communities to participate in fundraising projects, both schools and businesses benefit: the schools receive more money and the businesses increase their visibility and potential revenue.

“In the Community” stems from our core values and reflects our desire to give back to our communities,” says Mor. “By bringing together targeted supportive businesses and the communities in which they function, we reinforce the connections which bind us together and demonstrate what a committed group of people can do. When people buy from these businesses, not only do monies flow back to the communities, but these businesses are offering preferred pricing which stretches the dollars even more.” Mor’s goal is to create a momentum, rolling out programs throughout Orange County and beyond.

Though Mor had decided to remain in the US, his love and dedication to Israel has never faltered. And so Mor will lead a special trip to Israel in 2018 with members of the Republican Lincoln Club of Orange County. The focus of the trip is to reinforce the natural affinity towards Israel by making these participants ‘insiders.’ The end goal will be developing 40 prominent community leaders in becoming ‘Ambassadors for Israel’ in spirit and in action. But Mor’s good works extend to Israel, where he supports the program “Larger than Life” a non-profit organization founded in 2000 by a group of parents of children with cancer. And like the cancer they’re fighting, “Larger than Life” doesn’t discriminate. The organization treats all Israelis no matter what their race or religion. When a group of kids came to Southern California, Mor held a big party at his home. “The most beautiful part,” said Mor, “is that the kids are not just Jews, but Druze, Christians and Arabs as well.” After being so successful in this country, Mor feels an obligation to give back, and it is to children he focuses on. “The most important thing is what we do for the benefit of kids,” said Mor, “to try to find ways to help kids – whoever they are.”

Rabbi Florence L. Dann, Beit Sefer Director of Temple Beth Israel of Pomona has been a contributing writer to Jlife since 2004.

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