Mayer Smith: “I am Bursting with Pride and Amazement”

At an impressive 94, Mayer Smith continues to be a lifelong supporter and advocate of the Jewish state. A retired financial and estate planner and business advisor, Mayer keeps busy by writing a bi-weekly column for his local newspaper, Chicago Jewish Home, and attends Israel Bonds community events, such as one held by Bonds’ Chicago New Leadership Division in July 2018.  Growing up in Newport News, VA, a town filled with residents firmly committed to Israel and the Jewish people, Mayer was active in neighborhood synagogues and Jewish community centers, leading up to a position as Israel Bonds Chairman for Northern Virginia - Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax Counties - held more than five decades ago.  When he reflects on Israel’s 70 years of extraordinary achievements, he states, “It is the fulfillment of the prophecy, ‘You shall be a light unto the nations of the world.’ I am bursting with pride and amazement.” 

Mayer Smith attends Israel Bonds’ Chicago New Leadership Division event on
July 26, 2018 in Chicago, IL (Photo: Tzvi Feifel)

As a young boy, Mayer began efforts to uphold the Jewish homeland by carrying blue boxes, an iconic means of fundraising for Israel by forging the connection of the Diaspora to the Jewish nation. He belonged to Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA) as a teenager and joined Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), later becoming the local chapter’s President and serving on the ZOA National Board. In his words, Israel Bonds were a “natural follow-up.” In addition to his involvement in many Jewish organizations, Mayer accepted chairmanship for United Jewish Appeal and Israel Bonds amidst the height of the 60s. He recalls the day the Six-Day War began - June 5, 1967 – in which he traveled to Bonds’ Washington office to provide his support and assistance.  At a time when multiplying bond sales and income was essential for Israel and the Diaspora, Mayer was recognized as an innovator, spearheading programs which further emphasized his vital commitment to the cause. 

Having traveled to Israel a dozen times, Mayer remembers his first voyage being with a United Jewish Appeal group from the DC area, about 70 people in total, headed by successful real estate builder Herschel Blumberg.  When asked about his sentiments when his plane touched down at Ben-Gurion Airport, Mayer responded, “I kissed the ground!”  Visiting with family as well as on missions, Mayer is amazed at all the Jewish nation has accomplished; most notable is the level of advancement that Israel has reached in land development for both agriculture and real estate in such a short time.  But as a people, he is mesmerized by the number of start-ups given Israel’s small population, its revolutionary achievements in groundbreaking medical discoveries and providing immediate critical care to countries around the globe.  Mayer observes, “No matter where a catastrophe strikes, Israel is there.”

Mayer Smith stands proudly at the Kotel in Jerusalem (Photo courtesy of Mayer Smith)

Accomplished author, educator, speaker and fundraiser, Mayer is passionate about his family, his Jewish heritage and his commitment to Israel through investments in Israel bonds and other Jewish organizations.  By investing in Israel’s economy through the Bonds program, he feels fiscally and personally responsible for the ongoing success of the Jewish homeland, and continues to purchase bonds for his grandchildren and their children on special occasions.  In gifting them, he makes a point to explain the importance of strengthening the birthplace of the Jewish people and fortifying the vast potential Israel can further achieve.