Alan Rose, one of Canadian Jewry’s most prominent guiding forces, died early Tuesday of brain cancer. He was 74.
Until last year, Rose was executive vice president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, the organization he joined as assistant director in 1970.
He left CJC after his appointment to the Convention Refugee Determination Division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board.
Rose, who was born in Scotland, immigrated to Canada from Great Britain in 1957.
He fought as a volunteer in the Haganah, Israel’s pre-State defense force, during the 1948 War of Independence.
He was also a tank commander with the British 8th Army, and he was among the first to liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
“The experience made me go into Jewish communal life, something I had never considered till that moment,” Rose said in an interview last year.
After coming to Canada, Rose worked for the Jewish Agency for Israel and for the forerunner of the Canada-Israel Committee until his arrival at CJC. Once there, he traveled around the world as a CJC ambassador.
Two of Rose’s defining moments were the realization of freedom for Soviet Jews and the massive airlift of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
Rose, who was honored on many occasions, was a recipient of the Order of Canada, the highest award that can be bestowed upon a Canadian civilian.
In 1980, he was awarded the United States Presidential Citation of Honor for his liberation of Bergen-Belsen and, in 1987, he was given the Terezin Anti- Fascist Fighter’s Medal by the government of what was then Czechoslovakia.
In June 1994, the French government awarded Rose the Medaille Militaire de la Liberation.
And at its recent plenary session, CJC honored him with its Samuel Bronfman Medal, for distinguished community service. Last month, the World Zionist Organization awarded Rose the Jerusalem Prize.
Rose was also a board member of the World Jewish Congress, the International Council for Russian Jewry and the Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, among other groups.