Industrialist, philanthropist Dov Lautman dies at 77

Dov Lautman, founder of Delta Galil Industries, known philanthropist, Israel Prize laureate succumbs to Lou Gehrig's disease at age of 77

The Israeli industrialist, philanthropist and Israeli Prize laureate Dov Lautman passed away Saturday at the age of 77. He passed away after a long and difficult struggle with ALS which left him paralyzed.


President Shimon Peres addressed the passing of Lautman on Saturday, saying "Today an unusual man passed away – a man who devoted his life to the service of the people and society of Israel. Everything he had was generously given to society."


Peres said that Lautman was "a true pioneer and a man of peace. He formed a modern industry… invested in education and employment for generations of young Israelis. He never stopped working, never gave up in the face of hardship or distress. He was loved, loyal and humble."


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also eulogized Lautman on Saturday, saying "Lautman was one of the founders of modern Israeli industry and a pioneer of advanced technology and exporting."


Lautman was born in 1936 in Tel Aviv. After serving in the IDF he went on to study at MIT. Two years after completing his studies he returned to Israel and at the age of only 27 become the CEO of Sabrina – a textile company.  Afterwards Lautman moved on found the Gibor factory Kiryat Shmona.


In 1975 he established the most famous of his factories – Delta Galil Industries which operates the fashion chain Delta and serves clients such international clients such as Marks & Spencer and Calvin Klein. He was its board chairman and primary shareholder until 2007, when he sold his control of the company because of his ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrigs disease).


After selling Delta to Isaac Dabah, Lautman said "Delta is my life's work. In light of my health and out of concern for the company, its employees and its future success, and after giving the matter much thought, I have decided to sell controlling interest to Dabah."


Lautman served as president of the Manufacturers Association of Israel and as Coordination Bureau Chairman for Israeli financial organization. In addition, Lautman also served as the prime minister’s special ambassador for financial development and foreign investments in Israel during Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s tenure, Delta's website detailed.


In a 2010 interview to Yedioth Ahronoth, Lautman spoke about his illness. "I never once thought about the end," he said. "Even now I feel as if it is not me. I am a relentless optimist and so I think to myself, and maybe I'm an idiot but even when I'm alone I don't think about it. Even at times when I thought I wouldn't live, when I though I had only three or four years to live on I completely ignored it," he said about the prospect of death.


Last January, a few weeks prior to the national elections, Lautman came to Ynet's studio to speak about his new position as the chairperson for "Education is Everything" (Hakol Hinuch). About the government's education and social policy, Lautman said "a lot of money is being invested in teachers' pay, but unfortunately nothing is being done about closing the widening gaps in Israeli society. In my eyes, these gaps are a ticking bomb, they threaten our existence more than the Iranians or Hamas ."


Regarding the issue of a uniform core curriculum for Israel's education system – a controversial topic for the religious and haredi public – Lautman said "if no funds will be given, at the end of the day they will learn the core curriculum. There is nothing unkosher about core studies. These are topics that need to be studied in every school."


His factories, which operated in Israel's northern periphery as well as in other locations in the Mideast have supplied work for thousands. In recent years, Lautman has worked to integrate Israel's Arab minority into the workforce and has worked to promote education in Israel.


Lautman won the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement and special contribution to society and the State of Israel in 2007.


Itay Blumenthal, Yaron Druckman, Billie Frenkel and Dr. Itay Gal contributed to this report



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פרסום ראשון: 11.23.13, 13:40
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