As one of the Main Line’s most notable and prolific philanthropists and entrepreneurs, David Adelman is involved with some of the area’s most efficacious organizations, ranging from FS Investments to Penn Medicine board of trustees. But it’s his involvement as the chairman of the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation that hits home with particular poignance.
The driving force behind the creation of 2018’s Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza (philaholocaustmemorial.org)—named after his beloved grandfather, a survivor who fought in the resistance and moved to Philly after the war; and his business partner/mentor, Alan Horwitz, who gave the plaza’s lead gift—Adelman uses the same perseverance to raise much-needed funds for the memorial plaza, located at 16th and Arch streets, as he does in his day-to-day as a real estate developer and CEO of Campus Apartments. And he uses his decidedly forward-thinking ways of looking at the world to fight ignorance that’s endured for centuries.
As a board member on Steven Spielberg’s internationally acclaimed USC Shoah Foundation, Adelman clearly shares Spielberg’s enthusiasm for creating an unforgettable experience—and, together, the two organizations just launched an app that creates a multisensory journey throughout the plaza. “It was exciting to bring these two organizations together for the common good, and I think the product is really something that will resonate with people of all ages,” he says. “Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation gives us access to a lot of archival and historical material that really helps bring things to life, including video testimony from Philadelphians who relate to the different memorial plaza elements.”
Adelman’s currently creating a $9 million endowment that will cover the plaza’s programming and maintenance in the years ahead. “We’ve already had many schools visit the Memorial Plaza and have conducted a few teacher trainings to help educators incorporate it into the classroom—but we have other plans in the works to maximize the educational value. The endowment will help us make these things happen,” he says.
But, despite his immersion in an organization that focuses on one of the bleakest moments in world history, Adelman focuses on the good in the world—particularly during the holidays. “You can’t let the acts of a few cowards take away the work that a lot of good people are doing. ere’s been a lot of negativity and pessimism over the last few years—but look at how people react to these events. It’s healthy to remember that we’re a good society, if you can take your eyes away from the headlines.”