Published On: Mon, Jun 6th, 2016

Japanese philanthropist funds planetarium in central Israel



The central Israeli city of Netanya was set to dedicate a $3 million science and space center on Monday. The 11, 000-square-foot Madarame Planetarium and Meditation Center was largely funded by Japanese businessman and philanthropist Rikoho Madarame, 79, who is described by city officials as an “Israel lover.”

“During the 1970s, I met American-Jewish business people. We connected, and for the first time I learned about the Holocaust and the suffering of the Jewish people, ” Madarame told Israel Hayom.

“Over the years I made more and more Jewish friends, both inside and outside Japan, and I met Elad Levy, who was an attache at the Israeli Embassy in Japan, ” said Madarame. “When I asked him where I should invest in Israel, he suggested Netanya. Why? Because the attache’s daughter lives there, and because it was a great city. I then got to know the mayor and I came to visit, and I fell in love, just as he said I would. Now I just have to check out the hummus and my visit is complete. Everyone asks me, not only in Japan, why I am engaging in philanthropy in Israel, and my answer never changes: I have a special place in my heart for the Jews and the state. It is a sentiment that I cannot explain, even to myself.”

Asked why he chose to build a planetarium, Madarame noted that the desire to know more about the universe is shared by every human being.

“Anywhere you go, you’ll find people looking at the sky at night, ” he said. “And regardless of their location, they see the same thing. My philosophy is very simple: all humans should be equal, because at the end of the day, we are all very similar.”

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