January 4, 2012
Pro-Israel philanthropist Newton Becker dies at age 83
Philanthropist Newton Becker died on Jan. 2, and with his death, the pro-Israel and Jewish communities have lost one of their biggest supporters. Becker, who lived near Los Angeles, died at 83 after a long illness.
A prolific donor who had a reputation for humility, Becker donated to organizations that shared his belief in Israel’s importance to the Jewish people and to the world, due to its democratic nature. He gave funds to StandWithUs, which fosters Israeli activism on college campuses, CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy on Middle East Reporting in America) and many others.
However, Becker’s commitment to Israel transcended financial support, according to statements released by several organizations.
“He shifted the paradigm of pro-Israel activism,” said StandWithUs. “Without him, the pro-Israel community would not be as strong and effective as it is today.”
CAMERA executive director Andrea Levin emphasized Becker’s hands-on approach to philanthropy.
“He wanted to know, ‘How are you going to execute this? Why don’t you try this? Why don’t you consider a global approach? How are you going maximize the impact of this event?’ ” Levin said.
“It came out of his own background as a teacher,” she added.
Indeed, Becker earned his fortune by developing a CPA training program called the Becker CPA Review Course, which became popular internationally. He also supported alternative energy, both as the founding investor and chairman of the board of Luz International, a solar company, and as a major investor in Electric Fuel, which develops batteries for electric cars. Early in his career, he worked as an accountant at Price Waterhouse. Becker earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting at Kent State University, from which he also received an honorary doctorate. He earned a master’s in business administration at Case Western Reserve University. He served in the U.S. Army in Germany.
StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein, who worked with Becker on founding the StandWithUs, recalled Becker in action: a man who was confident, in-demand and giving of his time.
“I watched him hold court with leaders of organizations from all over the world,” Rothstein said. “Everyone wanted a meeting with Newton Becker.”
Via several foundations, including the Newton and Rochelle Becker Foundation, his largesse will continue to support the pro-Israel community.
Becker is survived by his wife, Rochelle; sons David, Daniel, Bryan and Bradley; daughter Laura; and nine grandchildren.