Although she and her late husband, Bruce Rappaport (originally known as Baruch), made their home in Geneva, Switzerland, their hearts remained in Israel, particularly in Haifa, where they both grew up, where they first met and where several projects are named for one or both of them.
Ruth Rappaport, who continued the philanthropic activities of the Rappaport Foundation, died last week in Geneva at age 94.
Bruce Rappaport, a banker who also dealt in oil, guns and diplomacy (on behalf of other countries), and who was an extraordinarily generous philanthropist, died in 2010 at the age of 88.
Ruth was born in Berlin in 1924. She and her family left Germany in 1933 in the immediate aftermath of Hitler’s rise to power and initially settled in Tel Aviv. After a few years, the family moved to Haifa, where the Jewish community then was very much a German enclave. When Ruth was an 18-year-old student, she met Baruch Rappaport. There was an instant attraction, a short romance and a long marriage that lasted 65 years, most of which were spent in Geneva.
But the Rappaports kept coming back to Israel. They came for family gatherings, for meetings of organizations and institutions to which they contributed, and for gala events that interested them.
Bruce not only had an aptitude for big business, he also had a Midas touch, and his diversified business interests continued to flourish. The more money he made, the more he gave away.
Ruth was not only a willing partner in this philanthropy, she sometimes took the initiative, as for instance in the building of The Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. She was shocked when she learned there was no fully equipped pediatric hospital in the North, and without thinking twice, made the commitment for the cost of the facility that bears her name.
Perhaps that was not really surprising, because for more than 50 years, Ruth was active in WIZO, which first and foremost cares for mothers and children, although it also cares for the elderly, for families and for Holocaust survivors. For 17 of those years, she chaired WIZO Geneva. She was also associate chair of WIZO’s International Council. These roles gave her a deep ongoing connection with Israel as did her involvement with the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology, the Rappaport Family Institute for Research in Medical Sciences, and of course the Children’s Hospital.
In her WIZO capacity, Ruth Rappaport was particularly concerned about the safety and security of children in Sderot and other communities located close to Israel’s borders.
The couple also established the Rappaport Prize for Biomedical Research.
The Rappaports supported medical treatment and research in the United States as well as in Israel. Bruce Rappaport and Shimon Peres were good friends and Bruce was fond of quoting Peres, who often said that science, illness and health care have no borders. Any research that proves beneficial in one part of the world, he would say, will ultimately benefit the whole world.