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Dr. Maurice Sage, JNF President, Collapses at JNF Fete; Mrs. Ford Leads Audience in Prayer

Dr. Maurice S. Sage, president of the Jewish National Fund of America, collapsed last night shortly after he introduced Mrs. Betty Ford to the 2500 persons attending the JNF’s Gala Bicentennial Dinner.

President Ford’s wife, visibly shaken and her voice trembling, asked the audience to bow their heads and join her in a prayer for Dr. Sage. “Can we all bow our heads for a moment and say a prayer for Rabbi Sage?” Mrs. Ford told the stunned audience at the Hilton Hotel as a doctor and Secret Service men were trying to revive the 59-year-old Zionist leader.

“Dear Father in Heaven.” Mrs. Ford prayed, “we ask thy blessing on this magnificent man. We know you can take care of him. We know you can bring us back our leader. You are our strength. You are what life is all about, love, and love of fellow man is what we all need and depend on. Please dear God, let’s all join together in silent prayer for Rabbi Sage.”

The incident occurred toward the end of the evening in which the First Lady was honored and was about to be presented with a Jerusalem silver Bible and a key to the JNF Bicentennial Park near Jerusalem. Dr. Sage was pronounced dead at 11 p.m. in Polyclinic Hospital here of a heart attack.

LAUNCHED BICENTENNIAL PARK

The $150-a-plate dinner last night launched the American Bicentennial National Park southeast of Jerusalem. Minutes before he collapsed, Dr. Sage told the audience that the $6 million park “which is the largest project endorsed by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration in celebration of our nation’s heritage, will be dedicated in Israel on the 4th of July in the presence of the President of Israel. Ephraim Katzir, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Malcolm Toon, top Israeli and American dignitaries and a large delegation of American communal leaders.” Abram Salomon, JNF executive vice-president said that $2,251,300 has been raised so far for the Park in the United States.

Addressing the gathering earlier in the evening, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Simcha Dinitz, declared that the United States “was and always will be a great friend of Israel.” He said that the U.S. wants strong allies and a strong Israel “is an asset to the U.S. A weak Israel is a liability for America.” Stating that strengthening Israel is “advancing the cause of peace in the Mideast,” Dinitz observed that only with a strong Israel will the Arabs realize that the only way for a settlement is through negotiations.

Jacob Tzur, world chairman of the JNF in Jerusalem, said that the Bicentennial Park in Israel “will remind every citizen of Jerusalem, every citizen of Israel, of the great democracy overseas who taught us by its example how to stand guard over remote and difficult stretches of land, who inspired us in our pioneering tradition, who has stood by us in difficult times.”

DR. SAGE WAS CHEMIST

Dr. Sage, an internationally-known chemist, had been president of the JNF for eight months. Prior to that he had served as treasurer and a member of the board for several years. He was formerly president of the Religious Zionists of America.

He was also a former treasurer of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; a member of the United Jewish Appeal Cabinet; chairman of special projects for State of Israel Bonds; a member of the board of Bar Ilan University; vice-president of the World Zionist Congress and chairman of the board of the Jewish Week, a weekly in New York City.

Dr. Sage was born in Russia and moved with his family to Paris after World War I. He received his education at the Rabbinical Seminary in Paris and later graduated from the Faculty of Science at the University of Paris.

Dr. Sage, who came to the United States after escaping from Nazi-occupied France, established Sage Laboratories, a chemical firm and was the holder of many patents in the chemical field. During World War II, he served first in the French army and later in the American army.

Funeral services will be held tomorrow.

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