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Jews You Should Know

Sep 17, 2021

The Hospitality Guru & Jewish Futures Pledge Founder: A Conversation with Mike Leven

Mike Leven was immersed in Jewish life throughout his childhood in Boston. He attended shul and Hebrew school, spent his summers at Jewish camp, and played baseball at the YMHA. His parents worked hard, and tzedakah was a vital element of their Jewish identity.

Mike's successful hospitality career included the creation of the Holiday Inn Express brand and the reorganization of Days Inn of America, which transformed the company from a regional chain to one of the world's largest hotel corporations.

Mike has also established the Jewish Future Pledge (JFP), a national project he hopes will leave a distinct Jewish charitable legacy. The JFP encourages people to leave a percentage of their fortune to organisations and philanthropies that help Jews and Israel survive, as trillions of dollars in wealth are set to pass from one generation to the next over the next twenty-five years. Mike also wants youngsters to sign the Jewish Youth Pledge, which encourages them to support the Jewish community by making friends and participating in Jewish activities.

In this episode, Mike discusses his experiences in the hotel sector, how he effectively integrates tzedakah and business, the role philanthropy plays in Mike's life, and what drove him to launch the Jewish Future Pledge.


4:12 Mike Leven's childhood

7:41 College years: from law school to communication school

12:30 Why did Mike dropped out of law school?

18:33 Mike's beginning with hospitality

22:59 How was Mike's involvement with the Jewish community during his journey

25:29 Moving to Vegas, the "world's capital of hospitality"

29:18 What did Mike learned about philanthropy from Sheldon Adelson and Bernie Marcus

38:15 How was the Vegas experience from the hospitality standpoint and from the Jewish standpoint

44:05 What is the Jewish Future Pledge and what inspired Mike to start it

56:17 Mike's new book about his life story: "Can't Do it yourself"


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Jews You Should Know introduces the broader community to interesting and inspiring Jewish men and women making a difference in our world. Some are already famous, some not yet so. But each is a Jew You Should Know.

The host, Rabbi Ari Koretzky, is Executive Director of MEOR Maryland (, a premier Jewish outreach and educational organization. MEOR operates nationally on twenty campuses and in Manhattan; visit the national website at

A special thank you to Jacob Rupp of the Lift Your Legacy podcast for his invaluable production assistance.