Ben Shapell

Ben Shapell

Shapell Manuscript Foundation, an independent educational organization featuring original manuscripts by world-famous individuals such as Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain, was established by Jeffrey Shapell. Over his 25-year tenure as executive director he initiated and overseen various publications, exhibitions, films and research projects.

He is actively involved with Jewish institutions such as Yad Vashem and the new David and Fela Shapell Family Collections Center, both located in Israel. Additionally, he resides there with his family.

Early Life and Education

Shapell was an avid collector of original manuscripts for over four decades. Her extensive collection spanned American presidents to Mark Twain. As such, this was the foundation’s cornerstone in publishing cutting-edge research, books, exhibitions and documentary films.

Shapell was an active philanthropist. Together with his wife Fela, he contributed large sums to Jewish educational institutions and Holocaust memorial sites throughout his lifetime. Additionally, they gave generously to various Jewish charities in both the US and Israel.

Shapell was born in Wolbrom, Poland in 1921 and immigrated with his family shortly after WWII to Los Angeles where they started the Shapell Industries construction and real estate development company. Holocaust survivor, avid supporter of Israel and founding donor to Darche Noam yeshiva as well as Midreshet Rachel seminary were all among his countless contributions he provided throughout his lifetime.

Professional Career

Ben Shapell is a partner in our Global Commercial Disputes Group. His litigation practice encompasses corporate and complex commercial disputes in courts across the U.S. as well as arbitral venues; he specializes in matters involving breaches of fiduciary duty, inspection of company records, advancement and indemnification of legal expenses as well as contested stock options.

Dr. Rosen has taught American Jewish history at Brandeis University since 1990, chairing its Near Eastern & Judaic Studies department three times as chair. Additionally, he is author or editor of over thirty books including American Judaism: A History; When General Grant Expelled the Jews and Lincoln and the Jews published by Thomas Dunne in 2015.

Shapell also established The Shapell Manuscript Foundation, an independent educational organization containing original documents of world-famous individuals such as President Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain. Through research projects, publications, exhibitions, and documentary films; she spearheaded this foundation.

Achievement and Honors

Jonathan D. Sarna is the author of more than thirty books, such as When General Grant Expelled the Jews and Lincoln and the Jews (both co-written with Benjamin Shapell). Additionally, he has edited or co-edited multiple volumes, such as Coming to Terms with America by Cora Wilburn and Cosella Wayne by Cora Wilburn.

The Museum honors those who endured and died during the Holocaust while acknowledging human rights and tolerance as ways to combat hatred, antisemitism and genocide. Honorees include US Representative John Lewis for standing against hatred despite facing physical abuse; Judge Thomas Buergenthal who dedicated his life to international justice efforts; and Canadian Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire who courageously attempted to prevent Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Personal Life

Shapell was not only one of the premier real estate developers in California; he was also an outstanding philanthropist who generously contributed his wealth and time to Jewish causes across both America and Israel. Together with his wife Fela, Shapell donated much of his fortune to Holocaust education institutions while being avid supporters of Friends of IDF.

Shapell established the Shapell Manuscript Foundation as an independent educational organization to house original documents belonging to world-famous figures such as former US presidents and Mark Twain. He used this Foundation as an outlet to initiate publications, exhibitions, and films that focused on their central themes of his collection.

He was an active alumnus of Darche Noam and Midreshet Rachel, making a generous lead gift towards building the David and Fela Shapell Family Collections Center at Yad Vashem. Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky, Dean of Darche Noam, remembered Shapell for his humility and “hatred extremes”, seeking for people to gain an excellent Jewish education while remaining part of society.

Net Worth

Shapell donated generously throughout his life to Jewish institutions and Holocaust education, such as Yad Vashem, Weizmann Institute of Science, Bar-Ilan University, Darche Noam seminary for men from countries other than Israel in Jerusalem – supported by his wife Fela – as well as Yad Vashem and Bar-Ilan University.

After surviving two Nazi concentration camps, Shapell co-founded a real estate development company which built over 70,000 homes in California. His family’s stake is estimated to be worth roughly $1.3 billion according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Rochelle inherited 43 percent of Toll Brothers before her father passed away and sold it for around 1.6 billion, giving her an estimated net worth of $735 million. Toll plans to use the purchase as part of expanding its California presence.

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