Romano discovered the charms of Israel 15 years ago, and consequently volunteered for the IDF. He completed basic training, and since then has insisted on serving at least 20 days a year on the Seam Line, in a reserve company that is under Border Guard command.
The last time that he arrived in Israel for his reserve service was in November 2010, and he says he is already looking forward to this year's brown envelope to summon him for duty.
"Serving in the IDF and in the reserve corps is, in my opinion, the core of Zionism," he says. "Even if the IDF already have many soldiers, another soldier couldn't hurt."
Romano is a father of five; his oldest daughter, who is 20, completed her IDF combat service last week. He divides his time between his Paris home and his luxury sea-view apartment in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood of Tel Aviv. He spends a week out of every month in Israel. His international business ventures include Internet companies, hotels, restaurants and real estate.
"Academic studies cost a lot of money and not all of the students are rich," Romano explains his drive to establish a scholarship fund. "This is why I decided that in addition to the my reserve service, the least I can do is help other reserve soldiers."
'Fund will continue after I die'
Romano notified Tel Aviv University of his decision to establish the $150,000 "Romano Fund," and promised to sustain it for years to come. "Even after I die, the fund will continue to function," he said. The fund will be officially launched in May.
One of Romano's business ventures includes the Ethical Coffee Company, which manufactures biodegradable coffee capsules for coffee machines.
"You can make money and protect the environment, just like you can be rich and serve in the IDF," he says. "I hope that other rich people in Israel and around the world will adopt the idea and donate to students who serve in combat units."
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