In 1944, a handful of visionaries formed the American Committee to support Dr. Chaim Weizmann’s dream of a world-class science institute in Israel. Now, after 75 years and raising more than $2.5 billion, we celebrate this partnership between science and philanthropy – and our role in not only getting the Weizmann Institute to the forefront of science, but keeping it there.
1944 was a dark time: World War II was raging, and the Allies were struggling to defeat Nazi Germany. The future was uncertain – not just for the Jewish people, but for all humankind. But that November, in New York City, a match was lit: a handful of visionaries, inspired by eminent chemist and Zionist leader Dr. Chaim Weizmann, came together to form the fledgling Board of Directors of what was then called the American Committee for the Chaim Weizmann Scientific Institute, Inc.
The board’s primary founders – Harry Levine, Dewey Stone, and Meyer Weisgal – were deeply committed to Dr. Weizmann and shared his belief that science was key to Israel’s future. The three applied their considerable abilities to raising awareness of the research institute, particularly among influential philanthropists, politicians, and industry leaders.
Levine, Stone, and Weisgal’s success was evident on November 27, 1945, when the American Committee held its first National Gala. More than 2,000 prestigious guests from all over the country arrived in New York City, filling the ballroom of the glamorous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Even under the shadow of the ongoing war, the hope inspired by Dr. Weizmann’s growing Institute led to gifts totaling more than $1 million.
Subsequent fundraising activities for the new Weizmann Institute of Science – formally dedicated in 1949 – quickly picked up pace as ever-increasing numbers of generous friends learned about it, understanding its potential to create new technologies, medicines, and ideas that could truly change the world.
Over the past 75 years, the American Committee has spread its branches far from our roots in Boston and New York, with regional offices strategically located from coast to coast and a group of professionals providing full coverage of everything in between. Thanks to judicious leadership, committed staff, and – most important of all – the philanthropic American Committee family, we have raised more than $2.5 billion for the Weizmann Institute over the course of our existence, creating lasting relationships and practicing a personalized touch that would surely make our founders proud.
As a result, Americans have played a significant partnership role in not only getting the Weizmann Institute to the forefront of science, but keeping it there. Generous philanthropic support for laboratories, scholarships, centers and institutes, equipment, professorial chairs, education, and other necessities testifies to enthusiastic American commitment to the Institute, its graduate school, and to our shared mission: science for the benefit of humanity.
Out of one man’s dream has grown a globally renowned, world-class science institute. From a few people hoping to fulfill that dream has grown a prominent national philanthropic organization. Incredible progress has been made over the American Committee’s first 75 years, and the next 75 should be even more successful and inspiring as we accelerate the spirit of discovery and transform tomorrow – again.