Interviews

The Philadelphia Inquirer | Interview with Andre Gasiorowski – Millenium Project

 
 

In Jerusalem, the Year 2000 represents an opportunity. For one entrepreneur, its form is an ecumenical prayer garden, a fitness spa, and a TV network. He plans to share proceeds with charity.

by Naomi Morris | Knight Ridder Services

JERUSALEM ‐ Andrzej Gasiorowski wants to sell you a piece of eternity for $10. That is what he says he will charge for a stake in his scheme to build an ecumenical prayer garden on the Mount of Olives, where many Christians and Jews believe the Messiah will reveal himself to mankind.

Gasiorowski, a Polish millionaire who lives in Israel, says investors in his Messianic Garden, on 2.5 acres of the historic hill overlooking Jerusalem, will receive a Mount of Olives certificate. They also will participate in what he calls a philanthropic plan to develop a fitness spa, a conference center, and a television network. At least 25 percent of the money raised will go to charity, he said. The physician­-turned­-businessman is among dozens of entrepreneurs promoting the Year 2000 ventures in Jerusalem.

Gasiorowski, who just registered the Web site http://www.messianic-garden.com, said his project was not profit­ driven but motivated by the Judeo-­Christian philosophy of doing good deeds.

“The beauty is that this project is not Israeli or Palestinian, Jewish, Christian or Muslim,” said Gasiorowski’s partner, Barry Shye, an Israeli who spent 11 years in the United States.

“Anybody can be a shareholder, and the owners will decide what to support,” Shye said. “If the earthquake victims in Taiwan need help, the shareholders of the Messianic Garden may decide to help them.”

Gasiorowski said that revenue from the Messianic Garden would help develop prayer sites, cultural and craft centers in the Jerusalem area, and a research institute for unemployed Russian scientists in Israel. And money from these projects will be used to help poor Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe and for medical clinics in Africa, he said.

“I don’t just believe in peace and reconciliation,” Gasiorowski said. “I believe in creating one’s destiny. We can do something useful, not just sit on [Tel Aviv’s] Dizengoff Street drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.”

Gasiorowski was born 40 years ago to a Jewish mother and a Protestant pastor father near Wroclaw (Breslau), Poland. He spent his 20s working as a physician for $30 a month. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, he and a friend, Boguslaw Bagsik, began importing razor blades, coffee, and television sets from Germany. They turned their business into a $22 billion international operation within three years. “It was the wild, wild East,” Gasiorowski says. At the height of their success, Gasiorowski and his partner lived and worked in a castle outside Warsaw, Poland, that once housed Napoleon’s mistress. They traveled on their private jet, significantly contributing to Lech Walesa’s first presidential campaign. They also helped Israeli authorities transport Soviet immigrants to Israel and sold Israeli ­made weapons to the Polish army.

Gasiorowski emigrated to Israel with his wife and two young children. The Polish investigator tried to torpedo their attempt to buy the majority share in the Israeli oil concern Paz. The deal is still mired in the Israeli court system. Today, Gasiorowski, a musician and math whiz, operates from north of Tel Aviv, with a mobile telephone and notebook computer as his nerve center. He said he would soon list his new company on stock exchanges worldwide and that millions of Christians from the United States to South Korea are poised to invest.

Gasiorowski said, “This is just the beginning.” Shye added. “Those who need food and clothing will find that someone believes in them on the millennium’s eve. The project will bring people worldwide and closer to God.”


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