Albeit 18 years his junior, Shari Arison, 61, the wealthiest woman in Israel, shares a birthday with President Reuven Rivlin. Both were born on September 9, which this year coincides with Rosh Hashanah. Rivlin was born in Jerusalem; Arison was born in New York City to Israeli parents.
Arison has built extensively on the fortune that she inherited from her late father Ted Arison, who founded the Carnival Cruise Corporation. Always Israel-oriented, she came to Israel in her late teens in order to serve in the army. She heads the Arison Group, a global investment company whose interests have included Bank Hapoalim, the largest of Israel’s banks; Salt of the Earth, one of Israel’s leading salt manufacturers; Miya, a global company working toward increased efficiency in the distribution of urban water; and Shikun and Binui, a global real estate and infrastructure conglomerate that was sold in August 2018 to the Saidoff Group. Through the Ted Arison Foundation, currently headed by Jason Arison, the oldest of her four children, she has donated to a broad range of philanthropic causes, and through her vision has inspired others to give not only of their money but of themselves – especially when they don’t have money to give.
She initiated the international Good Deeds Day, in which a good deed can be as simple as a smile in the direction of someone who seldom sees a smile, to major projects such as painting the home of a senior citizen or sprucing up a welfare institution that does not have the funding to pay a professional. She is also the founder of Matan, which is affiliated with United Way International and Goodnet. Matan adopted Ruach Tova (Good Spirit), an organization that encourages volunteerism in Israel. Arison has authored several books, all of which in one way or another emphasize the importance of making the world a better place for other people as well as for oneself.
Last month, Arison was questioned by anti-corruption unit Lahav 433 as a suspect in a bribery probe connected with the Shikun and Binui housing and construction company.
She has received several awards both for her business acumen and for her philanthropic vision. Her estimated wealth is $5.2 billion.