Local Philanthropist Honors Late Mother’s Memory and Israel’s Heritage

By Mara Fahl



Love, memory, and optimism for the Jewish future. These are the things that drive Pittsburgh real estate broker Robert (Robb) Glimcher, in his philanthropic endeavors. In 1986, Glimcher first partnered with Jewish National Fund-USA to buy 100 trees, then another 100 trees -- and soon, he’d funded a forest. That was the first of many projects he would name after his mother, Leona Barbara Glimcher, lovingly known as “Nona.” Today, his latest commitment, also in memory of his mother, goes to renovating the lobby and entrance hall of Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem.

“To this day, when I donate anything, I name it in memory of my mom,” Robb said. 

Robb’s connection to Israel came about unexpectedly on his first trip as a young adult. Thinking he would find meaning at the Western Wall or another religious site, it was rather at a hotel bar that he found a deeper connection. As strangers gathered around, singing his favorite Jewish songs welcoming in Shabbat, he found himself in awe of what it means to have a Jewish homeland. “I’ve never felt so comfortable, so Jewish, and so connected,” said Rob. “It wasn’t just all the amazing things I saw; it was how at home I felt. There is nowhere else in the world where being Jewish is something you can wear on your sleeve without worrying.”


Robert Glimcher

Over the decades, Robb and his wife Meg have deepened their philanthropic commitments, especially in education. This led to their involvement with Jewish National Fund-USA’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel (Muss). Muss offers a variety of study abroad programs for high school students in Israel to learn about their history while pursuing rigorous academic studies.


“I think it’s important for kids to care about their Jewish roots and history,” said Robb. “To be able to go to Israel and attend classes is an unbelievable experience. The classes are important, but you learn even more about life.”

With all of these experiences guiding his philanthropic strategy, Robb recently donated to redesign the lobby of the entrance hall at Ammunition Hill, a Jewish National Fund-USA affiliate in Jerusalem. The heritage site and museum serve as a tourist destination, army recruitment base, an event center, and a museum commemorating the 1967 Battle of Ammunition Hill, one of the bloodiest battles of the Six-Day War during which 36 men died, and Jerusalem was reunified. The improved lobby and museum facility will further serve educational needs, creating a platform to share the site’s story with Israelis and visitors from around the world. “It’s an important part of Israel’s history, and it shouldn’t be second-rate, it should be first-rate. If we can make it a better experience,” he said, “I know more people will come and I hope it grows.”


“Robb has been such a great partner of Jewish National Fund-USA for so many years. His dedication to Jewish education and continuity continues to inspire me,” said the organization’s Chief Development Officer, Rick Krosnick.


Ellen Spira Hattenbach, Jewish National Fund-USA National Campaign Director, Midwest, reflected on the Glimchers’ philanthropy.

“This is just another example of the magnitude of his generosity, his heart, and his mom’s legacy,” said Spira Hattenbach. “Ammunition Hill is an anchor for our heritage, and this remodeled facility will make it inviting for all to see.”

Robb is grateful that he and his family have been able to play significant roles in educational projects in Israel. He plans to continue contributing to Jewish National Fund-USA projects for years to come -- all in the name of Nona Glimcher. 

After all, he attributes much of his personal and professional success to her.  

“I don’t know what everyone believes, but I think my blessings have come from her watching over me,” he said. 




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