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Documentary On Largest-Ever Gift To Israel To Screen At Santa Barbara Film Festival

Americans for Ben-Gurion University providing support for film

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“Their transformative generosity will be felt for generations to come,” Americans Friends for Ben-Gurion University CEO Doug Seserman said of the historic $500 million donation by Holocaust refugees Lottie and Howard Marcus. (Photo: BGU)

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A feature documentary that reveals the mystery behind a Long Island couple who made the largest-ever charitable donation to an institution based in Israel — will screen at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival next month.

Who Are the Marcuses? reconstructs the lives of Holocaust refugees Lottie and Howard Marcus, an unassuming couple from Great Neck, N.Y., with a passion for Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), the southern Israeli institution whose innovation inspires peace and climate action through water technology.

The film features Warren Buffet, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, historian Daniel Gordis, best-selling philosopher Micah Goodman, and an original score by legendary musician and peace activist David Broza.

The Marcuses retired to a modest two-bedroom apartment in San Diego. Former dentist Howard passed away in 2014 at age 104, and Lottie died less than two years later. The film simultaneously traces the development of Israel’s vital water technology from pre-state to the present; how the Marcuses’ $500 million gift in 2016 has ensured continued leading-edge development in water science for not only the Israeli people, but the world as a whole; sets the family’s gift in geopolitical context; and explores both its impact and implications for regional peace through technology exchange. 

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At the festival, two screenings of Who Are the Marcuses? — on Feb. 13 and 15 — are supported by Americans for Ben-Gurion University (A4BGU), the organization that raises awareness for BGU across the U.S. by showcasing the institution’s academic excellence and ground-breaking research through educational programs and events as well as other initiatives.

A4BGU plays a vital role in sustaining the vision of Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to create a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community, and sharing the university’s expertise locally and around the globe.

“The Marcuses were humble visionaries who saw the importance of water research not only as vital to Israel’s self-sufficiency but as a strategy to achieve peace through shared natural resources,” says Doug Seserman, Chief Executive Officer of A4BGU. “Their transformative generosity will be felt for generations to come.”

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The film made its sold-out world premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival in California in October and went on to screen at the United Nations climate change conference COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, before coming to Santa Barbara. From Santa Barbara, the film continues its festival journey in Memphis, Colorado and New York, among other cities.

“Our film has powerful messages about climate change, water technology, the environment, and philanthropy that can change our world,” says the film’s director, University of California, Santa Barbara alumnus Matthew Mishory.

“But films are also about storytelling, and this one tells a story so unbelievable and inspiring, it can only be true. Screening at Santa Barbara is a homecoming for me and a dream come true for the production team. The region is both a growing eco-technology hub and fragile coastal ecosystem.”

The poster of the film, Who Are the Marcuses? (Photo: Supplied)

Who Are the Marcuses? explores a number of foundational questions surrounding the historic donation, including:

  • Who were these virtually unknown philanthropists who had never publicly revealed their wealth or intentions?
  • How did they accumulate millions by getting in on the early days of the greatest financial services empire ever built?
  • What compelled them and their daughter Ellen to give it all away?
  • And why were the Marcuses so captivated by the issue of water scarcity and BGU?

“This film is the blueprint for existing and future technological solutions to climate crises that set the stage for lasting peace in the Middle East and beyond,” says one of the film’s producers, Bradford Schlei.

J Cubed Communications is an international PR firm based in Tel Aviv committed to generating tangible results for its diverse client base through public relations and marketing.

With networks in New York and London, J Cubed specializes in international media placement for Israeli and international entities in the public and private sector that are seeking to take their message to a global audience.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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