Former Anti-Defamation League leader Abraham Foxman is viewed by many as a Jewish leader with a unique common man’s touch. But that has not hindered his twice-yearly visits, over two decades, to the exclusive Golden Door, a secluded spa on 600 acres of hills, meadows and gardens 35 miles north of San Diego, from where he spoke to the Forward by phone.
Foxman’s regular one-week stays at the spa, which advertises its inclusive cost for seven days at $8,850, come courtesy of an ADL benefactor who, years ago, saw the group’s welfare as being closely tied to the physical and mental welfare of the hard-driving child Holocaust survivor who led it.
“He told me, ‘I’m going to invest in the ADL if you let me invest in your health,’” Foxman related.
How Abe Met Rupert — at a $8,850-a-Week California Spa
But the benefits went beyond just providing Foxman with a couple of weeks a year of personal recharging amid an environment of unremitting pampering, he hastened to add.
“This is where I met Murdoch,” said Foxman, referring to billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who founded Fox News and became an ADL fundraising dinner honoree in 2010 based on his support for Israel.
At the dinner, Foxman recalled how his first introduction to Murdoch was in a private setting, “away from the media spotlight.”
“I have come to know the man, not his image,” Foxman said in presenting the ADL’s International Leadership award to Murdoch. “I learned that he cared deeply about the safety and security of Israel.”
Critics, including some with a history of strongly defending Israel, such as The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, protested that award, citing what they characterized as disturbing episodes of bigotry involving Fox News or its CEO, Roger Ailes.
But thanks to the bonding the spa encourages among its well-heeled guests, “I got five or six [fundraising] dinners from this place,” Foxman told the Forward. “At my dinner, when I retired, there were four tables from the Golden Door.”
How Abe Foxman Met Rupert Murdoch: The Story of the Golden Door
Larry Cohler-Esses was the Forward’s assistant managing editor and news editor. He joined the staff in December 2008. Previously, he served as Editor-at-Large for the Jewish Week, an investigative reporter for the New York Daily News, and as a staff writer for the Jewish Week as well as the Washington Jewish Week. Larry has written extensively on the Arab-Jewish relations both in the United States and the Middle East. His articles have won awards from the Society for Professional Journalists, the Religious Newswriters Association, the New York Press Association and the Rockower Awards for Jewish Journalism, among others.