Nachshon Draiman's personal profile
Nachshon Draiman’s career as a businessman has been guided by a personal commitment to ethics and toward the care of others.
He chose an education in psychology, social services, and health administration “because I felt it was important to understand human nature. My parents instilled in me a dedication to others, to be of help. I followed that way of thinking by learning about caring for others.”
It is also the way Nachshon Draiman approaches philanthropy and community participation. He serves on the boards of several charitable organizations well as actively donating to many others. “One cannot participate in business without also giving back to the communities where he works,” Nachshon Draiman says. “It’s part of the larger cycle of trying to make things better. When we do business in a community, I get involved in that community because my business lives there. So my interests are better served as the community prospers. It is possible that everyone involved can win.”
Academics studying philanthropy often say their research shows that giving is motivated by humans’ deeply held need to find meaning in life. That search for meaning is often deeply intertwined with community connections (defining community as narrowly as family and as broadly as the full community of life). Humans want to feel a sense of connection and a sense of purpose to life. Giving (time, money, and energy) can be a central way to find meaning.
Nachshon Draiman believes that what is good for our community is good for each of us (in that individuals in thriving, happy communities are generally happier themselves), there is a way in which giving comes back to benefit the giver. “Targeted philanthropy is an investment that can yield multiple and sometimes unintended benefits. Sometimes you can feel a sense of fulfillment from unexpected results of contributing.”
“But many of us give to various causes and charities because of the fundamental aspect of tzedaka, a Hebrew word often translated into English as “charity.” “What it really means, Nachshon Draiman says, “is justice. Jewish tradition has always emphasized justice as a compelling factor of our history. But we can take a broad approach to the justice of philanthropy, such as by helping the greater community by building our own resources.”
Nachshon Draiman illustrates this approach through his experience as the head of the building committee of the Arie Crown Hebrew Day School in Skokie. The school needed to expand to accommodate a growing number of students, and acquired an adjacent empty lot for the project. “It was a hangout for some undesirable activity,” Nachshon Draiman says, “yet there were those in the community who were somehow worried their property values might be threatened by our addition.”
Nachshon Draiman attended numerous community meetings and met individually with nearby homeowners to consult with them on everything from general design, height of fences -- even removal of the trash. “We turned what looked to be a problem into convincing them about the opportunity for improvement.” More than ten years later, the school remains an anchor in the neighborhood and nearby property values increased substantially.
“In most circumstances,” Nachshon Draiman says, “real estate appreciates. And the school is a significant investment in the neighborhood, and is now in its 66th year. Quite obviously it is there for the long term and is a positive institution.”
Nachshon Draiman’s ability to combine a business approach with community investment is an elderly care facility he developed in Robbins, Illinois, 17 miles south of Chicago and one of the oldest incorporated predominantly African-American municipalities in the United States, but that had recently fallen on hard times. At the time, Nachshon Draiman’s facility was the largest investment the community had seen in over a decade. It continues in operation today.