If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you are no doubt aware that antisemitism is a topic on everyone’s minds once again.
The musician formerly known as Kanye West and currently known as Ye recently made a series of antisemitic remarks against Jewish people, which faced an almost immediate backlash. In addition to getting banned from the social networking site Twitter (although his profile was eventually reinstated), he faced the loss of several high profile sponsorship deals, among other consequences. But his actions were enough to begin the larger conversation around this particular topic, and Robert Kraft (owner of the New England Patriots) himself was happy to contribute.
Robert Kraft sponsored an ad that ran during a high profile NFL game that urged people to “stand up to Jewish hate.” More specifically, it declared that “Antisemitism is hate. Hate against Jews.” The TV spot, which ran for 30 seconds and was released in conjunction with the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism alongside the Robert K. Kraft Family Foundation, made the opinion of all parties involved exceptionally clear: “Recently, many of you have spoken up. We hear you today. We must hear you tomorrow.”
This is another in a long line of examples of the lengths that Robert Kraft is willing to go to in order to express his support for his Jewish heritage, all of which are more than worth exploring.
Robert Kraft and His History of Philanthropy
Robert Kraft was born in 1941 in Brookline, Massachusetts. After attending Brookline High School, he soon continued his education at the esteemed Columbia University on an academic scholarship. During this period, he also served as the class president – certainly a sign of things to come.
Afterwards, he attended Harvard Business School, where he received his MBA in 1965. At that point, his professional career began in earnest.
He started his professional life with the Rand-Whitney Group, which was a packaging company run by his father-in-law. A few years later in the early 1970s, he founded International Forest Products – an organization that specialized in the trading of physical paper commodities. Robert Kraft has long said that he started the company out of what was essentially a hunch – he determined that the then-current increase in international communications and transportation would result in an expansion of global trade. Time quickly proved him to be 100% correct and with that, his trajectory towards becoming one of the wealthiest men in the United States began to take shape.
Robert Kraft began his journey towards eventually owning his beloved New England Patriots in the mid-1980s. It was then that the team moved to Schaefer Stadium. Sensing an opportunity, Kraft purchased an option on the Foxboro Raceway in 1985. This was a sizable horse track that was located adjacent to the stadium. He did this in an attempt to prevent the then-owner of the team from holding events that were not related to the Patriots while races were taking place.
Just a few years later in 1988, Robert Kraft purchased the stadium outright. At the time, it was considered to be outdated and “nearly worthless.” However, it came with a fairly significant caveat – the sale also included the Patriots’ lease, which at that point ran all the way through 2001.
It was in 1994 that Robert Kraft was able to finally purchase the New England Patriots outright. With that, he had taken a dream that he had been longing for since childhood and turned it into a reality. In the years that passed, he turned the team from a mediocre prospect into one of the definitive dynasties in the history of professional sports. This is a large part of the reason why he is anticipated to be inducted into the Pro NFL Hall of Fame by as soon as 2023.
Prior to all of this, Robert Kraft partnered with the Center for Jewish Progress of Greater Boston (called the CJP for short) to create the Passport to Israel Fund. It provides a path for parents to send their teenage children to visit Israel for the first time. In 2000 he also donated no less than $11.5 million to help construct the Columbia/Hillel, which is notable for being constructed using the exact same type of white stone that is found in Jerusalem.
In 2017, he married two of his passions when he contributed $6 million towards building the first regulation-sized American football field in Israel. These are just a few of the many, many ways that he has contributed to similar causes over the years.
All told, this recent NFL ad is just another in a long line of examples of the lengths that Robert Kraft is willing to go to in order to support the causes he believes in. Thankfully, that trait shows no signs of going away anytime soon.
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