Shlomo Rechnitz: Challenging The Definition of Philanthropy

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COVID-19 has wreaked devastating consequences and havoc on people across the globe. The magnitude of the suffering has been extraordinary in scope; and even with the helpful collaboration of public sector forces, the sole assistance of the government has proven inadequate. But we’ve seen amazing expressions of humanity unleashed by private individuals in different ways. People that have felt inclined to take charge in helping their fellow man during moments of despair. 

 

Indeed the different forms of generosity that people have employed to help one another has been inspiring. Equally inspiring are stories of people within the philanthropic world who have dedicated their lives to challenging the traditional paradigms of philanthropy. We’re all familiar with what can be coined “standard philanthropy.” Such acts of philanthropy ought to be commended – and they take the forms of contributing to major institutions and organizations. But there’s something particularly unique about the philanthropist we are profiling today that is worthy of sharing with the public writ large. 

 

Shlomo Rechnitz is somebody who has demonstrated a keen understanding of how to truly effectuate change in a way that is personally felt by his fellow man. Indeed Rechnitz is legendary in the Los Angeles community for opening his home every Saturday night and sitting at the head of a long table as lines amass outside his residence. Each person in need standing in that line, has the opportunity to converse with him directly and receive a check and a personal expression of gratitude from Rechnitz. 

 

Indeed on an average Saturday night, it is said that north of one hundred people will consistently come to see Rechnitz, sharing their personal stories. Mothers, fathers, and people of all walks of life who may be out of work or down on their luck. And Rechnitz sits and listens intently as each and every person shares their personal misfortunes; and he ensures that each one of them walk out of his home with a check to lift up their spirits.  

 

While much of his giving is coordinated through his and his wife’s foundation, the scope of the giving he engages in on a direct basis to individuals is unprecedented. As is the personal touch that comes with it. Indeed, Rechnitz also never waits at an opportunity to give – with countless stories of him proactively seeking out such opportunities. 

 

One such example came in 2015, when on the way to Israel with his family, Rechnitz stopped over in Ireland, where he came across a group of 400 US soldiers. As he watched the servicemen preparing to eat their paper sack dinners, Rechnitz asked the commanding officer if he could purchase hot meals for them instead. He gave each soldier $50 to dine out at a restaurant in the airport of their own choosing. As he said in a video that was later picked-up by media outlets worldwide, “You guys risk your lives to protect me and protect my family. If I get to go out and see a whole bunch of Army soldiers and Marines, it’s something that makes me proud. I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

 

Rechnitz has a keen admiration and respect for our nation’s bravest. He’s well known for his ongoing commitment of providing $10,000 to the families of each California police officer to fall in the line of duty. Indeed it’s these types of unique and unconventional philanthropic gestures of Rechnitz, that makes him a source of great inspiration for aspiring philanthropists throughout the globe. 

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