Joseph C. Mandel, a businessman who gave millions to Jewish schools, dies at 102

Gabe Friedman

(JTA) — Joseph C. Mandel, a philanthropist who donated tens of millions of dollars to Jewish schools, has died at 102.

The businessman passed away at his winter Palm Beach, Florida, home Tuesday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

Along with his two brothers, Mandel co-founded the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation in 1953. The brothers have since donated millions to several schools and civic programs in their native Cleveland and around the world.

Their gifts to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland established the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, the Mandel Center for Non-Profit Management and the Alzheimer’s Care Institute. They also funded the Mandel Center for the Humanities and the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University in Boston.


Their $17 million gift last year to the Agnon School in Beachwood, Ohio — which was renamed the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School — was one of the largest ever to a day school.

“His last few years were not good years and he can rest now,” Morton Mandel said of his brother to the Cleveland Jewish News. “He had a wonderful disposition, he was exceptionally creative, and he was a rock.”

Mandel was born in Poland in 1913 and immigrated with his parents to Cleveland at the age of 7. In 1940, he and his brothers founded Premier Industrial Corp., an auto parts distributor that built off of their uncle’s small store. It became a worldwide company listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1964 and merged with United Kingdom-based Farnell Electronics in 1996. Premier Farnell took in almost $1.4 billion in revenue last year.

Mandel’s brother Jack died in 2011 at the age of 99. Morton Mandel is 94.

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