It seems Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, and his lovely partner in life Dasha Zhukova, are coming to Israel to spend Pesach in the Negev next week.
Seder begins on Monday night, and reports are that he and his party are setting up a big tent for the occasion in the huge crater at Mitzpe Ramon.
Then the rest of the week, it is reported there will be jeep tours of the Negev for the Abramovich group, clambering around on the rocks of the mountains and even hot air balloon rides too.
It won’t be too much hardship for the group, however, as London’s Daily Mail reports Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has booked all 111-rooms in the Beresheet Hotel in the Israeli desert resort of Mitzpe Ramon for the trip for himself, his family and his entourage of friends. The hotel has a stunning view of the 500 metre-deep Ramon Crater, the world’s largest crater created by erosion. The hotel tab for the trip/ somewhere in the vicinity of US$450, 000.
We are told that when we sit at the Seder we must not only remember the Exodus from Egypt, but must consider it to be as if we were right there ourselves today.
The purpose of this is not just a spiritual one, i.e. to identify with our forebears, but also a practical one – stipulating in this way that by understanding the hardships of the past in the present tense we also include the suffering of those who are alive today, and thus our purpose should be to strive to help them as well. In that way the Seder is prescriptive as well as remembrance.
Roman Abramovich may be a billionaire, and may be coming to the Negev by private jet, but he is still thought to do much good in the world as well, and his sojourn in the desert will no doubt provide him and his family time for contemplation, as well as for partying. We can certainly wish all of them Chag Sameach.
About Roman Abramovich
Roman Abramovich, who today is 47, is a Russian businessman and principal of the private investment company Millhouse llc as well as owner of Chelsea Football Club, an English Premier League football team. Abramovich has a personal net worth of approximately US$9.2 billion, according to the 2014 Forbes billionaires list (Bloomberg has a rather higher figure).
Abramovich’s Midas touch has succeeded in a wide range of businesses, including at different times oil (Sibneft), aluminum (Rusal), steel (Evraz) which he still holds but perhaps wishes he didn’t as it has fallen heavily in value in recent months, nickel (Norilsk) which he acquired in 2013 and consumer goods.
As a close friend of President Boris Yeltsin, he then even had an apartment in the Kremlin, and was one of the key beneficiaries of the privatization of state enterprises following the fall of the Soviet Union. Abramovich was also a key early backer of Vladimir Putin’s candidacy to eventually replace Yeltsin.
In 1999, Abramovich was elected Governor of Russia’s remote, poor eastern region of Chukotka, where he invested millions to upgrade the quality of life over the next eight years he remained in that role before withdrawing in 2013.
Abramovich has served as Chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia and has been a generous donor to Chabad. He has been married twice, and had five children from his first marriage before meeting Dasha Zhukova. He and Dasha have two children together; Aaron, born in 2009 and Leah born in 2013.
About Dasha Zhukova
Dash Zhukova, who today is 32, is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, fashion designer and editor-in-chief of the bi-annual art and fashion magazine GARAGE. She is the daughter of Alexander Radkin Zhukov, a prominent Russian businessman.
Her mother is Elena Zhukova, a Russian scientist who is now retired from UCLA where she was a professor of molecular biology. Zhukova spent most of her childhood in the US and attended a Jewish day school in California.
With degrees in Slavic studies and literature, she enrolled in London’s College of Naturopathic Medicine. In addition to business ventures in fashion and design, in 2006, Zhukova co-founded the fashion label Kova & T with her childhood friend Christina Tang.
In 2008, Zhulova established the IRIS Foundation, designed to promote contemporary arts and culture. Her involvement in Moscow’s Garage Center for Contemporary Culture has led to Abramovich’s investment in a Garage satellite on St. Petersburg’s New Holland Island.
Through IRIS, Zhukova also conducts arts projects throughout the world, including exhibitions, performances and editing Garage to “ignite raw collaborations between art, fashion, and literature.”