Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Be My Guest

Barbara Bensoussan

When David Lichtenstein realized food stamps weren’t an option, he tried his luck with properties. Today his billion-dollar enterprise has moved into a different kind of real estate —he’s dotted the map with free bikur cholim apartments for the exhausted, worried loved-ones of hospital patients.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

He’s already passed the half-century mark, but there’s something boyish about David Lichtenstein’s clean-shaven face and horn-rimmed tortoiseshell glasses. There’s nothing childish, however, about the real estate investment company he’s built, or the way in which he’s provided critical services to the Jewish community. Lichtenstein embodies that cherished American ideal, the self-made man. He literally started with nothing: He left kollel for work when he realized he would have to rely on food stamps to feed his family, and ventured into real estate. His Lightstone Group is now one of the largest privately held real estate development groups in the country, a multibillion dollar enterprise that has enabled him to give back to the community. Lichtenstein serves on the boards of Touro College and New York Medical College, and has invested in cures for degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, ALS, and multiple sclerosis. He also helps kollel families who choose to enter the workforce build job skills and find employment. His latest project, providing housing for the families of hospital patients, reflects his inclusive view of Am Yisrael and sincere desire to be of service. He comes by his communal spirit honestly; his grandfather was the rabbi of Providence, Rhode Island, and he grew up hearing his parents’ stories about how his grandparents’ home served as the local way station for Jewish travelers and meshulachim. The tradition of hachnassas orchim continued into his parents’ home in Flatbush, where his father was also a shul rav. “Our house was like a train station,” Lichtenstein remembers, seated in a modest office in his company headquarters, which occupies the entire floor of a Park Avenue office building. “I often gave up my bed to guests.” Lichtenstein learned in Brooklyn yeshivos before studying at the Mir in Jerusalem. He later returned to learn in Lakewood and married his wife Shiffy, the granddaughter of Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz ztz”l. His father-in-law, Rav Shmuel Mendlowitz, has lived with them since being widowed. David and Shiffy are thrilled to be surrounded by generations, with him in their Monsey home, and their married children across the street. (Other children are in yeshivah, college and high school; the oldest son works with his father.) “We have four generations under our roof on a daily basis,” he reports with pleasure. Despite a busy schedule, Lichtenstein has never lost his zest for learning. He’s particularly interested in contemporary halachah and has published Hebrew seforim on hilchos Shabbos and halachos related to the Internet. (Can you sell your chometz over the Internet? Can you give hechsherim via Skype?) An English sefer on contemporary halachah is planned for release soon through the Orthodox Union.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Weekly Struggle
Shoshana Friedman Cover text: promise big and deliver what we promise
Only Through You
Rabbi Moshe Grylak A response to last week’s letter, “Waiting in Passaic”
No Image Available
Are You Making a Kiddush Hashem?
Yonoson Rosenblum In communal affairs, “one bad apple…” often applies
Chance of a Lifetime
Eytan Kobre I identify with the urge to shout, “No, don’t do it!”
No Image Available
Work / Life Solutions with Bunim Laskin
Moe Mernick "You only get every day once"
Seeking a Truly Meaningful Blessing
Dovid Zaidman We want to get married. Help us want to date
Shivah Meditations
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Equivalence between two such polar opposites is puzzling
Magnet Moment
Jacob L. Freedman Everyone’s fighting a battle we know nothing about
Secrets and Surprises
Riki Goldstein Top-secret suits Eli Gerstner just fine
Blasts of Warmth
Riki Goldstein Keeping the chuppah music upbeat in low temperatures
Behind the Scenes
Faigy Peritzman The intrinsic value of each mitzvah
Good Vision
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Good or bad, nice or not? What you see is what you get
Day of Peace
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz On Shabbos we celebrate peace within and without