Remembering Norman Seiden

The Russell Berrie Foundation mourns the passing of our dear Trustee Emeritus, Norman Seiden z”l, a wise and farsighted community leader and role model who inspired us to do more and to do it right.

For three generations, Norman shaped his philanthropy around community and Israel, investing in the Technion as a means of ensuring Israel’s future through the global advancement of cutting edge technology.

The Barbara and Norman Seiden Optoelectronics Center led the way to establishing the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute to provide Technion and Israel with world-class capabilities in this 21st century science.  Five years later the Norman Seiden Multidisciplinary Graduate program in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology was launched to leverage the success of RBNI by developing the next generation of outstanding scientists who will devise pioneering industrial applications to improve the quality of life around the world and secure Israel’s position at the forefront of nanoscience and nanotechnology. 

This innovative graduate studies program provides fellowships for Ph.D. and Master’s level students. Over 150 students have graduated (60 with a Ph.D. and 90 with a Master’s of Science), 40% of whom work in the Israel’s high-tech industry, some involved in research on novel solar cells leading to the reversal of traumatic brain injury. 

On his 90th birthday, his children created a fitting tribute by establishing the Norman Seiden Prize for Academic Excellence.  His passion for the survival of Israel is reflected in the ties he forged with different communities by naming early childhood centers after each of his grandchildren.

Norman cared deeply about our own community, infusing his acts of generosity with thoughtful approaches to address the needs of young families, seniors, healthcare and the need for humanism in medicine. He understood the importance of creating a vibrant Jewish communal life through Jewish institutions whose long-term sustainability he was always concerned about. 

The Russell Berrie Foundation had the rare privilege of working closely with Norman, whose probing mind elevated our giving in ways that transform our community and aspire to secure Israel’s place in the world. His wisdom and dedication to excellence continue to inspire our work.