The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation began with a corporate foundation established in 1953 by Jack N. Mandel (1911–2011), Joseph C. Mandel (1913–2016), and Morton L. Mandel (b. 1921) in Cleveland, Ohio.
In 1940, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel established the Premier Automotive Supply Company in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1960, the company became publicly owned and in 1964 began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the name Premier Industrial Corporation. In 1996, the company merged with Farnell Electronics, PLC to form Premier Farnell, PLC.
In 1953, the Premier Industrial Foundation (originally the Premier Autoware Company Charitable & Educational Foundation) was established as a corporate foundation to make philanthropic contributions for charitable, religious and educational purposes. In an effort to broaden their philanthropic reach, each of the three brothers established a private family foundation in 1963. In 1982, three supporting foundations of the Jewish Community Federation were established, collectively referred to as the Mandel Associated Foundations. The various charitable funds were collectively referred to under the name Mandel Foundation. In 2012, the Foundation name was officially changed to the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation.
The brothers have had important personal roles in the operation of social service, health, higher education and cultural institutions in the United States and Israel. In addition, the brothers have played a significant role in addressing Jewish education worldwide.
From 1984–1988 Morton Mandel served as Chairman of the Jewish Agency's Jewish Education Committee. In 1988, Morton Mandel convened and chaired the Commission on Jewish Education in North America, supported by the Mandel Foundation, to initiate a process to bring about a systematic, across-the-board improvement in the quality of Jewish education in the United States and Canada. The Commission was composed of numerous American, Canadian and Israeli community leaders; heads of foundations; educators; leaders from Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform religious movements; and scholars. Its report titled “A Time to Act” was published in November 1990.
In 1990, Professor Seymour Fox, who also worked on the Commission on Jewish Education, became President of the newly formed Mandel Foundation-Israel in Jerusalem, which convened prominent scholars, thinkers, researchers and planners from the fields of education and social leadership. The staff in Israel also lent their support to the newly established Council for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE) which was created to implement the recommendations from the Commission on Jewish Education with Stephen Hoffman as Interim Executive Director. CIJE's mission, in its projects and research, was to be an intermediary organization for systemic educational reform by working in partnership with Jewish communities and organizations to build the profession of Jewish education and mobilize community support for Jewish education. Other Executive Directors included Alan Hoffmann, Karen Barth and Howard Charish.