Henry Montor Dead at 76

Henry Montor, who worked closely with David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir in the years prior to and immediately after the founding of the State of Israel and who was one of the most influential Jewish leaders in the United States during that period, died of leukemia today in Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem. He was 76 years old. For the past 25 years he made his home in Rome and Jerusalem.

A dynamic and sometimes controversial figure on the American Jewish scene, Montor was a prime mover in the establishment of the United Jewish Appeal and the chief architect and founder of the Israel Bond Organization.

Although he was widely respected for his vision and innovative methods, Montor was at times considered a thorn in the side of the Jewish establishment because of the zeal with which he sought increased funds for Israel. His effectiveness as an advocate of the primacy of Israel as a new home for the survivors of the Holocaust often placed him in the role of a leading spokesman for Israel as it stood on the threshold of independence.

EXAMPLE OF MONTOR’S INFLUENCE

Montor’s influence was frequently felt. One example of this took place in July, 1945 when Ben Gurion, who was later to become Israel’s first Premier, was in the United States, and called on Montor to help him obtain support for the Hoganah, the Jewish community’s defense organization. Within 24 hours Montor assembled some 40 of the foremost Jewish business leaders from across the country.

They met with Ben Gurion at the home of New York industrialist Rudolf Sonneborn. Out of that meeting emerged an organization informally known as the “Sonneborn Group” which channeled supplies and equipment for the nucleus of Israel’s defense industry.

Born in Nova Scotia, he was brought to the United States at the age of two. He grew up in Pittsburgh and in Steubenville, Ohio. A scholarship gained him admission to the University of Cincinnati and Hebrew Union College (the school for Reform rabbis).

In 1925 Montor moved to New York where he was hired as assistant editor of the New Palestine, the official organ of the Zionist Organization of America. He subsequently joined the United Pales- tine Appeal as its publicity director. In 1937 he was named executive director at that organization which raised funds for immigration, settlement and land purchase in Israel.

Montor retired as chief executive officer of the Israel Bond Organization in May, 1955. He moved to Rome shortly thereafter where he established a consumer finance company, Finanzara Popolare, with branches in Milan and Turin.

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