Member of the Association of Liechtenstein Charitable Foundations e.V.
The Dan David Foundation is a charitable organization established by the entrepreneur and philanthropist Dan David in the year 2000. Based in Liechtenstein, the Foundation supports research, higher education and breakthrough achievements in the sciences and humanities.
The Foundation’s flagship project is the Dan David Prize, the largest history prize in the world, dedicated to recognizing and supporting outstanding achievement in the study of the human past.
The Foundation supports additional projects, in Israel and other countries, in fields that reflect the varied personal interests of the founder.
These focus mainly on archaeological and historical research, anthropology and paleontology, environmental protection and education, as well as the preservation of Jewish heritage.
Following the horrific attacks perpetrated by Hamas terrorists in the communities near the Gaza border and across the rest of Israel, the Dan David Foundation has allocated $1 million in donations to civil society relief efforts and reconstruction projects for the people affected.
This amount is in addition to the $1 million in grants, announced in August, dedicated to strengthening democratic and liberal values in Israel and which are in the process of being disbursed.
Details on both programs will be published in the “other projects” section of the Foundation’s website soon.
The Dan David Foundation continues to follow with dismay the political developments in Israel, where the government has succeeded in pushing through the first element of a judicial overhaul that has been widely criticized as endangering the balance of powers and undermining the democratic foundations of the state.
The Foundation joins the many concerned and friendly voices across the world calling on the Israeli government to put an end to its uncompromising and illiberal legislative push, which has created an unprecedented rift within the country.
We are particularly shocked by the Education Minister’s ongoing attempt to seize control of the Council for Higher Education, a move that endangers the independence and viability of Israeli universities, which are one of the country’s greatest success stories and are internationally recognized for academic excellence.
In light of the latest developments and our own statement dated March 6 on this matter, the Foundation’s Board has made the following decisions:
The 2023 Dan David Prizes were awarded at a festive ceremony at Tel Aviv University. For the second time, the prize was given in its reimagined format and was awarded to nine outstanding early and mid career historians and practitioners who investigate the human past. The winners received USD 300,000 each to support their work in illuminating the past.
For more information about the winners: www.dandavidprize.org
Photo Credits: Guy Yechiely
March 6, 2023
Since its establishment, the Dan David Foundation has supported numerous projects in Israel –in cultural, scientific, educational and environmental fields – all in the spirit of its founder, Dan David, who believed in nurturing and protecting the democratic, secular and liberal values on which the state was founded.
The Foundation is following with growing concern the political developments in Israel and particularly the government’s attempts to push through judicial and constitutional reforms that would fundamentally alter the character of the state, as well as the increasingly inflammatory and racist rhetoric by some government ministers and politicians.
There is broad consensus among international and Israeli intellectuals, legal experts and other academics that the proposed measures would undermine the principles of equality and the checks and balances that are key to the survival of any democracy.
We share this view and support the struggle by many in Israel’s civil society to halt the passage of the controversial legislation through peaceful protest. We especially appreciate the strong stance taken by Tel Aviv University, the Foundation’s partner in many of its Israel-based projects, whose leadership has, on multiple occasions, condemned the planned reforms as a threat to democracy as well as academic freedom and research.
We join the calls by other philanthropists, charities and supporters of Israel around the world for the Israeli government to reconsider its plans.
As a result of the situation, the Foundation is reevaluating its donation policies in Israel. Should some or all the planned reforms be approved, the Foundation reserves the right to stop investing in new projects in the country.
The Dan David Prize is an international award, established in 2001, endowed by the Dan David Foundation and headquartered at Tel Aviv University.
With a purse of $3 million, it awards up to nine prizes of $300,000 each year to outstanding early-and-mid-career scholars and practitioners in fields that deepen our understanding of the past, including, but not limited to, history, archaeology and anthropology. The remaining 10 percent of the prize purse funds an international postdoctoral fellowship program at Tel Aviv University.
Until 2021, the Prize recognized outstanding contributions to humanity in all fields of endeavor and awarded three prizes of $1 million in rotating fields. Previous laureates of the Prize include former US Vice President Al Gore, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, author Margaret Atwood, geneticist Craig Venter and immunologist Anthony Fauci.
In 2021, to mark the Prize’s 20th anniversary, the Foundation decided to adapt the award to the challenges of our times. We recognized that global investment in the humanities, and especially in the historical disciplines, is decreasing, even as the upheavals of the present highlight the importance of understanding our past to preserve open and democratic societies.
For this reason, the Foundation decided to focus the Prize’s resources on supporting the disciplines of historical research – a choice that also honors the legacy of Dan David, who was a passionate supporter of history and archaeology.
The nomination process for the Prize is open and the award is given on the basis of merit, without discrimination of gender, race, religion, nationality, or political affiliation. The winners are recommended by a selection committee composed of eminent experts in the many disciplines of historical research and then ratified by the board of the Prize.
While the Foundation’s signature initiative is the Dan David Prize, it supports additional projects, in Israel and other countries, especially in archaeological and historical research, anthropology and palaeontology, environmental protection and education, as well as the preservation of Jewish heritage. The Foundation accepts grant requests by invitation only.
The Mobile Holocaust Museum - "Touching History" is an interactive travelling museum founded by Gidi Glazer that commemorates the Holocaust, its victims and survivors. The mission of the mobile museum is not only to fulfil the will of the Holocaust survivors and victims to "never forget", but also to ensure that today's youths are educated about this terrible chapter in human history.
The museum collects artifacts connected to the Holocaust that tell the stories of the lives of millions of Jews and tours high schools throughout Israel. Using a 'hands-on' approach, students can immerse themselves in these stories to understand what happened and history's impact on current events. Touching History has already reached 160,000 students.
The Dan David Foundation supports the project Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae under the supervision of Prof. Jonathan Price, which aims to collect, edit (or re-edit) and write commentaries on all inscriptions in all languages from the period between the fourth century BCE to the seventh century CE found in Israel. Together with Tel Aviv University, some of Israel's finest scholars of the ancient world have been involved in the project since its inception, along with distinguished colleagues from abroad (mainly Germany). Four volumes have already been published since 2010, covering regions such as Jerusalem, the northern and southern coasts, and Judea/Idumaea, with the fifth volume on Galilee in preparation. Nearly 8,000 texts in ten languages will be published by the end of the project. The project is in line with the founders' interest and passion for research that sheds light on the past.
The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation connects the youth of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for cross-border and cultural exchanges, despite their perceived differences and fears. The Peres Center uses social networking platforms to provide a framework for shared learning and capacity building. With its program "YaLa Young Leaders: Citizen Journalism and New Media Activism", they aim to increase dialogue, empathy, mutual trust and confidence among youth in the MENA region through shared learning and perspective-sharing. By strengthening participants' capacities as citizen journalists, activists, storytellers and influencers, they aim to reach up to 210 direct beneficiaries through the program. Through six cycles of activities over three years on specific journalism topics, they will meet online for lectures by top journalists. Dan David was active in youth movements and as a photojournalist, and the Foundation is proud to support the YaLa program in memory of its founder.
Ruach Tzeira's goal is to develop a nationwide network of learning communities for highly motivated and talented high school students in the humanities in Israel. The network provides a foundation for improving the teaching of the humanities through joint ventures with local schools and teachers. Ruach Tzeira has already opened 5 sites, with 2 more in the pipeline, to achieve its vision of 500 participants within 5 years. 13 classes of 200 students are already benefiting from their project.The Dan David Foundation supports one of Ruach Tzeira’s centers in Jerusalem.
In 2023, the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv will host an exhibition entitled "Through a Different Lens: Women Photographers of the First Half of the 20th Century. The exhibition highlights the work of 20 European photographers between the two world wars and their influence on future generations. The humanistic values expressed in the work of these pioneering women were erased by the forces of history. Not only Nazism and war, but also their male counterparts led to their exclusion from the canon. With Europe once again at war and democratic values under attack, this exhibition seeks to retell history through a different lens. The Dan David Foundation, in memory of Dan David’s long career as a photographer and photojournalist, has decided to be one of the main sponsors of the exhibition.
In light of the pressing needs brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic, the Dan David Foundation has decided to step outside its usual funding remit and provide targeted emergency aid to medical and other institutions, with a focus on countries where the Foundation is particularly active. The Foundation has allocated USD 3 million to help fund hospitals and other organizations dealing with this unprecedented crisis. The first round of recipients included the Italian Red Cross as well as a number of hospitals in Israel, namely the Shamir Medical Center, Emek Medical Center, Reuth Rehabilitation Hospital and Ziv Medical Center. The funds were used to purchase respirators, personal protective equipment and address other urgent medical needs which will assist these organizations in testing and treating Coronavirus patients.
In a second phase, the Dan David Foundation focused donations on the educational sector. Due to the pandemic, many organizations in this field have had their funding depleted or frozen. Organizations including the Israel Center for Educational Innovation, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Tamar Center Negev, Merchavim – The Institute for the Advancement of Shared Citizenship in Israel and the Jerusalem African Community Center were financially supported by the Dan David Foundation to fill funding gaps, assisting them in continuing their valuable work.
The Italia Judaica project is a documentary history of the Jews in Italy by Shlomo Simonsohn, Professor of Jewish History at Tel Aviv University. Its purpose is to locate, identify and research documentary material pertaining to the history of the Jews in Italy and to publish the results systematically. Hitherto, 25 volumes have appeared and another 8 are awaiting publication.
The Etz Hayyim synagogue in Hania is the only surviving Jewish monument on Crete, following the destruction of the island’s community in 1944.
The building goes back to the Venetian period and became a synagogue in the 17th century. After the Holocaust, it remained abandoned and desecrated for half a century until it was painstakingly restored and re-dedicated in the late 1990s.
The Dan David Foundation is proud to support the continued maintenance of this monument that stands as witness to 2,300 years of Jewish life on Crete.
The Lod Music program offers a musical education to talented youths in the low-income and underdeveloped central Israeli town of Lod. Run jointly with the Lod Foundation, the program provides 30 three-year scholarships to local schoolchildren for musical training in jazz and light music.
The program includes five weekly hours of private instrumental lessons for each student, theory and ensemble sessions conducted by top teachers. The students receive professional training and continuous supervision, and perform at local events.
Teaching the next generation to respect nature is key to protecting the environment and securing humanity’s future. That is why the Dan David Foundation supports educational projects run by Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority that involve local communities, and especially children, in efforts to protect nature, landscape and heritage through field trips and hands-on experiences. The activities that the Foundation supports include:
First Steps is a competition for small and medium-sized businesses in Jerusalem that supports young entrepreneurs wishing to open or develop their venture in the Israeli capital. While Israel has a well-established pipeline for funding high-tech startups, entrepreneurs wishing to invest in more traditional ventures often struggle to secure initial capital, particularly if they are young and can offer few financial guarantees.
Run jointly with the Jerusalem Foundation and the Mati Jerusalem Business Center, the First Steps competition provides winners with a no-interest, no-guarantee loan as well as expert support in drawing up a business plan and launching a successful commercial enterprise.
The competition focuses on creative business ideas with positive social impact, which have the potential to create jobs in Jerusalem. The project is inspired by Dan David’s personal history, as he faced very similar challenges at the start of his business career, which he was able to jumpstart thanks to a no-guarantee loan by a fellow entrepreneur who believed in his dream.
The Dan David Foundation provides a number of grants supporting the humanities and social sciences at Tel Aviv University. These include:
Inaugurated in 1996, the Dan David building at Tel Aviv University was built to provide the university with additional classroom space as it faced a major increase in enrollments, following the mass immigration to Israel from the Soviet Union during the early 1990s. Today, the Dan David building continues to play a central role in campus life and is fondly remembered by university alumni from all faculties.
In 2022 the Foundation and Tel Aviv University initiated a major refurbishment of the building to renovate its interior and introduce smart classrooms that will ensure the best and most advanced teaching methods can be used by lecturers of all faculties.
Opened in 2018, the Dan David Center for Human Evolution and Bio-History Research – part of the Natural History Museum at Tel Aviv University – hosts one of the most important anthropological collections in the world. It records the evolution of humans in the Middle East from 1.5 million years ago to the present, and holds artifacts not found anywhere else in the world, including the remains of the first modern humans out of Africa.
The Center aims to become a global focal point for research into human evolution by using advanced methods of scientific inquiry such as ancient DNA analysis and micro-CT scanning. It also hosts a cutting edge exhibition titled “What makes us human?” that tells the evolutionary story of our species to the broader public using innovative and interactive displays aimed at both children and adults.
The Dan David Foundation also sponsors multiple archaeological digs at prehistoric sites across Israel, such as the Misliya and Manot caves, which have been the sources of recent major discoveries illuminating the origin of our species’ first forays out of Africa.
The Dan David Foundation is a partner of the Israel Antiquities Authority in the creation of the IAA’s new campus in Jerusalem, mainly through the construction of the Dan David Archaeology Building. As part of the IAA’s new headquarters, this building will be a key venue for researching, storing and displaying newly unearthed archaeological finds from across Israel.
The Name Your Hero Competition for Israeli high school students is an essay contest linked to the Dan David Prize. Run in conjunction with Tel Aviv University’s Youth University unit, the project encourages high school students to write about a personality who represents a role model for them and inspires them to make a difference through their own future actions. The best essays are rewarded with a small scholarship.
In July 1960, a young man who yearned for freedom was finally able to flee Communist Romania, along with his mother and grandmothers. They were allowed to board the train carrying them to the border with just one suitcase each and 10 US dollars.
Despite starting out with almost nothing, that young man embraced liberty and life in the Western world, treading a path that would make him into a successful international entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Born May 23, 1929, Dan David had already lived through many personal and historical tragedies. After surviving the Holocaust in his native Bucharest, he was active in Zionist youth movements, organizing trains and ships for the Aliya Beth, the clandestine immigration of Jews to what was then British-controlled Palestine. For his role he was persecuted and periodically arrested by the Communist regime, and years later his contribution would be recognized by the Israeli government, which honored him with the "Lochamei Hamedina" medal, awarded to those who fought for the establishment of the state.
Despite the challenges of his early years, Dan studied economics at university in Bucharest and became an accomplished photographer, producing award-winning shots for various newspapers and magazines. At 31, when he was finally allowed to leave Romania, Dan emigrated to Israel and initially continued his activity as a photographer. But in 1961, as he put it, he decided to "leave the art of photography for the business of photography." His dream was to introduce Israel and other countries to the concept of automatic instant photography – what today is commonly known as a "photobooth."
As a nearly-penniless refugee, Dan did not have the initial capital to invest in his idea. Fortunately, a businessman who believed in him came to the rescue, offering a partnership and a loan without guarantees that helped jumpstart the activity. Dan David went on to create and manage companies in Israel, Italy, Spain, Japan, the United States and elsewhere, operating thousands of automatic machines that today continue to offer a variety of services to the public.
The initial loan he received was a pivotal experience, teaching him the value of giving back and helping others achieve their dreams. It was in this spirit that he initiated his philanthropic projects, creating the Dan David Foundation in 2000 and the Dan David Prize in 2001. With the prize, his aim was to reward those who have made a lasting impact on society and to help young students become the scholars and leaders of the future.
Dan David repeatedly expressed his philosophy: “Money is not an end in itself, but a means to fulfil a vision. This is the reason why I chose to create the Prize, to devote some of my fortune to rewarding and furthering the work of the eminent figures who have increased our knowledge of our past, improved our present and helped us forge a better future.”
Dan David’s honors include "Commander of the Italian Republic in the Order of Merit" and "Commander of the French Republic in the Order of Arts and Letters." He received an Honorary Doctorate from Tel Aviv University and was a member of the Board of Governors of the university.
Dan passed away on September 6, 2011, in London, leaving his wife, Gabriela, and son Ariel. His philanthropic work and vision live on thanks to the work of the Dan David Foundation.