Jewish Billionaire Donates $7.5 Million to Help Save Washington Monument

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carlyle-group-co-founder-david-rubenstein-1A philanthropist who came forward soon after an earthquake damaged the Washington Monument last August has donated $7.5 million to get the repair project off the ground.

“I want to repay a debt I have to the country,” said David Rubenstein, co-founder of the investment firm The Carlyle Group.

In an announcement Thursday organized by the National Park Service, Rubenstein explained “I come from very modest circumstances, and I’m very fortunate to have achieved wealth beyond what I ever expected.”

“I don’t think I want to be buried with my wealth,” he continued, “I’d like to have the pleasure of giving away the things that I think are good while I’m alive. The country’s been wonderful to me, the city’s been wonderful to me and my family.”

With Rubenstein’s donation and congressional funds that were approved last month, Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes said “we now have the funds necessary to repair this damage.”

Hayes said the work should begin late this summer or early fall, and should take about a year.

The 555-foot-tall monument, the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, has been closed since Aug. 23, when a 5.8-magnitude quake struck the mid-Atlantic region near Richmond, Va.

Experts continue trying to figure out the best way to address damage found both inside and along the exterior of the monument, including whether an outside scaffold will be needed. Last fall, structural engineers documenting the impact of the earthquake used a system of ropes and slings to scale all four faces of the structure from the top to the bottom.

Rubenstein said his parents brought him to the monument as a child, and Thursday he recalled walking the steps from the top to the bottom during his visit when he was eight or nine years old.

“In those days, it was a long walk then, and when I walked down recently, a week or so ago, it seemed longer when you’re 62 years old,” he said. “It’s fortunate they didn’t have me walk up.”

Nearly four years ago, Rubenstein donated a $20 million copy of the Magna Carta to the National Archives, explaining that it was his way of giving back to the country that has been so good to him.

If there is inspiration from his latest philanthropy, Rubenstein told reporters, “I hope what would happen is that other people who have the means that I have will make similar gifts to our country to help repay obligations they might have to this country.”

{CNN Money/ Newscenter}


  1. “How about giving a couple of bucks to the yeshivas?”

    How would you react if someone publicly told you what to do with your> money?

    “Anyone have his phone #? I could use some help!”

    Why don’t you approach your bank for a loan, or try working for a living?

    “Good hakaras hatov

    Now that’s the sort of reaction that was needed in the first place!

  2. How about saving a couple of lives…? Or bringing new ones into the world? I guess after 120 there will be alot to show for…what a shame.

  3. #6, we don’t know what tsedaka this man gives. We don’t know anything about him other than that he gave to one cause, creating a tremendous kiddush hashem and expressing our communal hakaras hatov.

    I used to think like you. As a teenager, my parents moved to a wealthier frum community. Coming from a simpler background, I was turned off by the fancy cars and lifestyles that I felt were too showy. Then one shabbos a rav from a certain community facing major challenges came to town. In a single shabbos, during the summer while many people were away, this shul raised almost a quarter million dollars for this community.

    I was astounded when they announced the amount raised after ma’ariv. And I soon learned that this community were tremendous balei tsedaka. I learned to look past the pesach hotels and fancy cars. When someone gives more than ma’aser to tsedaka, or even chomesh of more, can we really tell them they shouldn’t be living nicely as well?

    Everyone has their own cheshbonos. We cannot judge, we don’t know the other factors.

  4. Thanks, 11.
    Those of us who don’t have money don’t understand the responsibilities. There are people who give buckets to good Jewish causes who also give, though somewhat more modestly, to general causes for the kiddush Hashem factor.


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