Jewish Leaders Shocked, Saddened at Sapir’s Death
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Jewish Leaders Shocked, Saddened at Sapir’s Death

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American Jewish leaders expressed shock and sorrow today at the sudden death of Pinhas Sapir and praised him for his contributions to Israel, Zionism and the Jewish people. Many were expected to fly to Israel tonight for the funeral Thursday.

Max Fisher, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, said: “The Jewish Agency and the Jewish people have lost a great champion and leader: a warm friend as he was, a strong personality, Sapir combined devotion and skill, dedication and understanding, to the cause of Israel and the Jewish people everywhere. No community was too small for him to visit, no problem to trivial for his attention and concern.

“For colleagues and co-workers, the loss of an inspiring leader and warm friend is a great blow indeed. Sapir was one of the generation of giants, builders of Israel and shapers of its institutions and society. He never lost the common touch and drove himself unsparingly on behalf of his people. His memory and example will serve as inspiration and blessing to us all in the years ahead.”

Mrs. Faye Schenk, president of the American Zionist Federation, said that Mr. Sapir’s death “has impoverished the entire Jewish community. He earned for himself a special role in the history of Zionism and Israel, particularly because of his creative and dynamic advocacy of aliya. Pinhas Sapir was an old-fashioned Zionist who devoted his entire life to Israel and the Zionist cause with unusual zeal, imagination and devotion.”


Mrs. Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the World Zionist Organization-American section, said Mr. Sapir “combined strength of character and personality with a gentleness toward people. He had the gift of rapport with people on every level and there was no community too small for him to visit on behalf of the Jewish people, Sapir’s was a life of service and devotion from his boyhood in Poland throughout his life in Israel.” She said Mr. Sapir had a love for his people and a burning commitment to the Zionist vision, “The Jewish people have lost one of their great leaders, one who has made an incalculable contribution to the development and growth of the State of Israel and to the well being of its people. May his memory be a blessing.”

Frank R. Lautenberg, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, called Mr. Sapir a great statesman and good friend and said: “His was a compassionate life, carrying forward the deep concern for relieving human suffering, meeting human needs and building human dignity. A warm dedicated human being, he was truly a man of greatness. One of the original architects in the building of the Jewish homeland, Mr. Sapir’s contributions in diverse areas were instrumental in the establishing of the independent State of Israel. His vision and direction for the development and growth of Israel and her people evidenced an unparalleled ability to create reality out of dreams; destiny out of hope.”


Raymond Epstein, president of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, said; “Israel and the entire Jewish people have lost a leader of extraordinary stature and achievement. In his many meetings with our Jewish Federation leaders, in Israel and in his visits to their own communities, he left the impact of his tremendous abilities. The last official I personally met with in Israel just a few weeks ago was Pinhas Sapir. He was truly unique. Our communities will deeply mourn his death.”

Rabbi Israel Miller, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who was told the news while addressing a press conference, said Mr. Sapir was “a source of great strength to all of us. A Jew to the core who never forgot his roots, a man of the people, who understood the people and the people understood him. His memory will be an inspiration to us all.”

Jacob Katzman, executive vice-president of the Labor Zionist Alliance (the American sister organization of the Labor movement in Israel), said that Mr. Sapir was “a power who could mobilize tremendous support to meet-the financial needs of the Jewish State, absorb immigration and further its social development. He was always ready in the true spirit of the halutz to answer the call of national service and did so by his assumption of the chairmanship of the WZO and co-chairmanship of the Jewish Agency to rally the Jewish people behind Israel and increase aliya.”

Melvin Dubinsky, chairman of the United Israel Appeal, and Irving Kessler, executive vice-chairman, said the death of Mr. Sapir “is a sadly tragic blow not only to the people of Israel but to Jews throughout the world. In the brief year since he left the government to assume the chairmanship of the Jewish Agency he displayed sincere and mature understanding of the diaspora. In this day of economic travail, his genius in financial affairs makes his loss particularly irreparable. Since he left Poland as a young boy he was one of the true pioneers, founders, and builders of the Jewish State.”

Rabbi Mordecai Waxman, chairman, and Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, executive vice-chairman of the Rabbinical Assembly, said in the death of Mr. Sapir “world Jewry has suffered an irreparable loss. Statesman and economist, he was one of the true pioneers of the Jewish State. A Jew with deep roots in the Jewish tradition, he understood and was sympathetic to the religious as well as national, aspects of Israel while at the same time recognizing the interdependence of all Jews throughout the diaspora.”

Mrs. Linore Ward, chairman of the national board of American Mizrachi Women, cited Mr. Sapir’s great dedication to serving the State of Israel from before its inception to the present day, and observed that as head of the Jewish Agency he “also brought great dynamism to the drive for more aliya.”

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