Jewish billionaire first Brazilian to join Gates and Buffet’s Giving Pledge

Julie Wiener

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Brazilian Jewish billionaire Elie Horn has committed to giving away 60 percent of his fortune to charity.

Horn, a real estate magnate, and his wife, Susy, are the first Brazilians to join the Giving Pledge, an effort started in 2010 by philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage more of the world’s affluent to give away at least half of their wealth to charitable causes.

The donation was announced Tuesday in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.

Horn, founder of the home builder Cyrela, is an Orthodox Jew and a low-profile businessman whose name has been on the list of Forbes billionaires since 2006. His fortune is estimated at $1.3 billion.


In his letter signing on to the Giving Pledge, Horn said he was inspired by the example of his father, who donated his entire fortune to tzedakah. He said secular and religious education will be the priorities of his giving.

“As human beings, we will carry nothing with us to the other world — the only things we shall take are the good deeds that we accomplish in this world,” Horn told the audience at the recent Brazilian Philanthropists Forum edition in Sao Paulo. “Doing what’s good is a great investment. That’s so obvious, I don’t understand how people can’t get it.”

Born in Aleppo, Syria, Horn arrived in Brazil when he was 11. He reportedly works 16 hours a day but respects Shabbat — Cyrela does not close any deals from Friday afternoon through Saturday evening.

Horn founded Cyrela Brazil Realty in 1978 and built it into the largest publicly traded developer of high-end residential buildings in Brazil, with activities across South America.

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