The Parasol Family & The Bonita Trust
The Bonita Trust is a philanthropic trust established under Gibraltar law in 2004, with Ruth Parasol its principal benefactor and founding member. The Trusts’ efforts are geared to acknowledge the need to aid people and institutions serving them, to address health and education challenges.
Since its inception Bonita has committed over £15 million pounds to both communal based and cross-border projects in the areas of health, medical research, human community services, education, culture and heritage, female entrepreneurship and disaster relief.
Ruth Parasol, successful entrepreneur and founder of PartyGaming Plc, daughter of holocaust survivor Richard Parasol, is the principal benefactor and founding member of Bonita Trust's International Advisory Board.
As a second-generation holocaust survivor I grew up listening to epic stories about an ancient Jewish-Polish tradition struggling to survive under Nazi occupation. I was deeply influenced by my family’s unique story, which for me represents both darkness and silver lining co-existing in those days.
Therefore, I especially cherish this project as it commemorates not only the tragedies of the mid 20th century, but also emphasizes the tremendous contribution of the thousand year old Jewish cultural heritage to Poland, Europe and the whole civilization; all represented in a contemporary 21st century style.
Richard Parasol was born in Czestochowa, Poland in 1935, as an only child within the Jewish middle-class Parasol family.
His earliest years were wrought with the terror and loss surrounding the Holocaust. In 1941, at age six, his family was forced by the Nazis from their home and “relocated” to the city’s Jewish ghetto. At age eight, Richard became a “Hidden Child” and it would be the last time he would see his parents alive. Under the care of a Polish Catholic family, Richard hid until the war’s end in 1945. By adolescence, he had witnessed and endured enormous personal tragedy, yet he was affixed to survive and move forward. Astray without family or resources, Richard began the arduous journey as an orphan-refugee that would lead him out of Poland, through continental Europe and into Israel.
In 1948 Richard was successfully able to enter Israel and began his life studying and working in kibbutz Ein Harod. Kibbutz life helped to support the young orphan carve a future out for himself.
After a mandatory service in the IDF during the Suez Crisis of 1956 Richard was able to immigrate to the US to study mechanical engineering at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). After graduating, he worked as an engineer for several years, and in 1964 left and used his hard earned savings to start buying and selling apartments in San Francisco. By 1976 Richard was a successful real estate developer of apartments and office buildings, managing a significant portfolio of industrial and commercial projects. This career spans five decades and includes over twenty-five large-scale FHA (Federal Housing Administration) housing complexes across several US states.
Richard’s entrepreneur spirit carried over into other businesses both small and large including resturants, clubs, medical devices and telephonics.
Richard Parasol currently serves on the Board of Directors of JDC, and assists in overseeing allocation of funds directly contributed by Bonita to various projects. His enormous career and life experience provide an essential soundboard for research, management, planning, and decision-making.
Richard’s energy, kindness, and drive are both infectious and motivating. Wherever he ventures, he seeks to make a difference and is a role model to both young and old, the talk-to-the-person next to you, make a new friend every day and never say never spirit.
The strong relationship between Jews and Pols is rooted deeply into the history of Europe and modern civilization. Thanks to this relationship I managed to survive as a hidden child during the horrendous times of World War II.
In the following years the Jewish ‘tribe’ as I like to call it, has found the strengths to revive itself, only this time it was in the State of Israel, a glorious chapter in Jewish history which I had the privilege to be part of.
The Museum of History of Polish Jews is located in the historical center of the Jewish community and will no doubt demonstrate some of the worst moments of mankind which took place on Polish soil. This chapter in history is well taught throughout western and modern societies. However, I believe that other great aspects of the Jewish-Polish heritage, which include its enormous contribution to both cultural and scientific progress, should be better commemorated.
Therefore, the main achievement of the Museum would be its ability to educate people from around the world; not only about the tragedies but rather about these fundamental foundations of modern progress which were originated in the core values of this community.