This couple left a historic legacy.
Holocaust survivors Howard and Lottie Marcus gifted $400 million from their estate to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, according to a university release.
The donation is likely the largest single charitable gift in Israel’s history, reports the Wall Street Journal, and is expected to more than double the size of the university’s endowment.
What’s more, 10 percent of the money will go to BGU’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, according to The Jewish Week, which studies water sustainability in arid regions, including desalination, wastewater reuse and water recycling.
“They believed that peace could come to the Middle East if water scarcity could be addressed,” Phillip Gomperts, regional director of BGU’s American fundraising organization, AABGU, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Lottie Marcus died in December 2015, two months before her 100th birthday, according to the release, and Howard Marcus died in 2014 at the age of 104.
Both had fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s and lost most of their family members in the Holocaust.
“Their legacy is a triumph over the forces of evil that very nearly erased them from the face of the earth more than 70 years ago,” AABGU President Lloyd Goldman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
It was only in the late 1990s that Lottie and Harold Marcus learned about Ben-Gurion University’s research in water sustainability, according to the release. They gave donations to support university laboratories and student scholarships, finally leaving the institution its biggest gift yet of $400 million.
“Knowing them, it comes as no surprise that they elected to use their financial success to enhance the lives of thousands of Israeli young people,” Warren Buffett said in the release.