Rapaport Magazine
Op-ed

Moshe Schnitzer Taught Us By Example

By Martin Rapaport
RAPAPORT... Moshe Schnitzer, unquestionably the greatest diamond leader of his generation, passed away on August 16. While wealthy, he was not the wealthiest, and while powerful, he was not the most powerful. He lived in the generation of Yehoshua Goldfinger and Harry Oppenheimer, great men in their own right but not diamond industry leaders like him.

What made Moshe exceptionally great was his vision of diamond as a foundation stone of community development. That diamonds represented an opportunity much greater than the accumulation of personal wealth. Diamonds were a way to ensure the survival of the Jewish people after the Holocaust, a way to create a global community of people with common goals and dreams — an extended international diamond family whose values and connectivity transcended religious, cultural, geographic and personal differences. moshe schnitzer

Undoubtedly, Moshe could have made more money if he concentrated solely on his business instead of serving as president of the Israel Diamond Exchange for 25 years (1967-1993) and president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses for eight years (1968-1972, 1978-1982). He spent thousands of hours during the most productive years of his life on community business. Why did he do it?

Perhaps, because he could. Greatness does not just require having an idea or value that transcends personal gain; it demands execution — turning the idea into a reality. While the endeavor and effort make a man great, the results provide gratification as they improve society. The reward is in the accomplishment.

Consider one example of Moshe’s work, the physical reality of the Israel Diamond Exchange. Four buildings, 861,000 square feet, 1,000 diamond offices with all support services. Would Israel’s diamond exports during Moshe’s presidency have grown from $200 million in 1968 to $3.4 billion in 1993 and then to $6.6 billion in 2006 without these buildings and the cooperative environment they created? Were these buildings built through Moshe’s efforts? What else did Moshe do? How many people in Israel and overseas, inside and outside of the diamond industry, benefited from Moshe’s efforts? Such is the measure of a man and the way to appreciate a life.

So how did he do it? While the key to success in real estate is location, diamonds are all about connections. Moshe’s success came from his personality, charm and charisma. His unlimited enthusiasm and energy, irrational optimism, unlimited imagination, sense of community, persistence and the absolute belief that he and his friends could do anything they set their minds to. These values and attitudes are what made him successful.

While it is important for us to recognize and communicate our appreciation for the great contributions Moshe made to the diamond industry, it is even more important for us to learn from Moshe’s life accomplishments. How many of us are doing what we can or should for the community? What will they write about us when we have passed?

The best way to commemorate the life of Moshe Schnitzer is to emulate his positive values and actions through our own lives, to recognize the great potential of the diamond industry as a unifying force and our own potential to achieve greatness. Inside each of us, there is a bit of Moshe just waiting to be developed.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - September 2007. To subscribe click here.

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