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(JTA) — Moshe Kagan, a passionate Progressive Zionist and longtime board member of the Claims Conference, has died.
Kagan died May 3 at the age of 92.
In the early 1950s he was a founder and president of Americans for Progressive Israel/Hashomer Hatzair, a predecessor of Meretz USA. Meretz USA, which is now Partners for Progressive Israel, has described him as “an elder statesman of American Zionism” and presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. He also was a member of the Executive Committee of the Jewish Labor Committee.
Kagan joined the Claims Conference board in 1999 representing the American Zionist Movement, remaining on the board until his death. He served on the control and audit committee.
Born in Gomel, Russia, in April 1940 he left the town of his youth, Keidan, Lithuania, and via Sweden immigrated to the United States. After living for a year with an uncle in New York , he enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 20. After the war he learned that his parents and two sisters had been killed in the Holocaust.
He earned a degree in electrical engineering from the City College of New York and, working at an electronics firm, designed a battery that eventually powered rockets and missiles for the U.S. military and NASA.
He served in the leadership of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Zionist Movement, the Jewish National Fund, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and the World Jewish Congress. The World Zionist Organization named him a life fellow.