Howard L. Goldstein is a senior partner with Appelrouth Farah & Co. in Coral Gables, Florida and a certified public accountant. He is also the chairman of the board of the Development Corporation for Israel, commonly known as Israel Bonds, unanimously elected in May of 2018. His connection, however, to the broker-dealer of debt securities issued by the State of Israel, began decades earlier.
Goldstein grew up poor in New Jersey. His father died when he was ten and his mother struggled to put food on the table. Difficult circumstances notwithstanding, he recalls that his mother instilled in him and his brother the importance of taking pride in their Jewish heritage and to always strive to make a difference. Those ideals ultimately led him to Israel Bonds. Goldstein and his wife Marcy moved to Miami in 1981, where they sought to engage with other young Jewish professionals. Their first trip to Israel, as part of a delegation with Israel Bonds New Leadership, led them to decide that working on behalf of Israel Bonds provided an opportunity to make Israel an essential part of their lives.
What drives your passion to dedicate so much of your life to the well-being of Israel?
Seventy years ago, the Jewish people had to think outside the box, and changed the course of their destiny. In the 21st century, the box, as I like to say, is much bigger. Israel is not just a state – it’s a state of mind for the Jewish people who have had to fight for a homeland across centuries and continents. We can finally make our own decisions about our collective future. It’s a dream come true that should never be taken for granted. I want to ensure that dream lives on for every Jew. And while every Jew might not be able to make physical Aliyah to their homeland, by investing in Israel bonds, every Jew can make what I call “Economic Aliyah” - a manifestation of my Zionism and commitment to building on everything Israel has achieved since independence. It’s a powerful concept made possible through the purchase of bonds to ensure the economic viability of the State.
How and when did Israel Bonds come about?
Following Israel’s War of Independence, the new State was in severe economic crisis. The country was in desperate need of a financial infusion to build a national infrastructure and provide for the hundreds of thousands of new immigrants seeking refuge and pouring into the country. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, in 1950, had the idea of floating an overseas bond issue to engage Jews worldwide to achieve economic stability for the reborn state by providing a fiscal utility to invest in the prosperity of the new homeland.
How did Ben-Gurion launch his initiative?
He began with a massive rally at Madison Square Garden and then traveled to other cities around the U.S. First year sales topped $52 million. Within six years, bond sales accounted for 35% of Israel’s development budget, with bond sales eventually expanding to Canada, Europe, and South America. Israel Bonds have provided Israel with over $42 billion in worldwide sales, which have been utilized to enhance every sector of Israel’s economy, and today includes high-tech, green-tech, biotech, and other cutting-edge industries.
How do you account for the steady growth of bond sales over the past seven decades?
A significant aspect of Israel bond-investment appeal is the fact that Israel has never once defaulted on a payment of principle or interest. Investment confidence grew the base of support to include not only the Diaspora Jewish community but state and municipal governments, labor unions, corporations and financial institutions. In 2016, we launched a program called The Alternative to BDS – Bonds Donated to Schools, which promotes donations of Israel bonds to academic institutions.
What do you hope to accomplish as board chair, growing the organization into the future?
Our connection must remain strong for Israel to continue reaching significant milestones. Investing in Israel bonds is a tangible means of accomplishing that goal and is based on feelings of trust and faith in Israel. I look forward to substantially growing the organization’s New Leadership Division, creating opportunities where young people have the chance to unite and celebrate Judaism.
How important is the younger generation to the growth of Israel Bonds?
It’s imperative that we instill in them the desire to influence change in response to the growing needs of Israel’s economy and our organization. It’s through their persevering dedication and pride in their Jewish faith, the legacy of Israel Bonds will continue for generations to come.
Can Israel bonds be purchased online?
We launched an e-commerce website in 2011 and to date, sold more than $258 million in Israel bonds through the site.