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Daniel Frisch, President of Zionist Organization of America, Dies in New York; Was 53

March 8, 1950
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Daniel Frisch, president of the Zionist Organization of America, died here early today at the Presbyterian Hospital, following a major operation. He was 53 years old.

Funeral services will be held here tomorrow at noon. His body will be escorted by a Z.O.A. delegation to Indianapolis where he made his home. Funeral services will be conducted in Indianapolis on Thursday at noon prior to interment. Mr. Frisch was the first president of the Z.O.A. to die in office.

Born in Palestine, Mr. Frisch was brought by his parents to Rumania at the age of one and immigrated to the United States in 1921. During the past 30 years he was active not only in the Zionist movement in this country, but also in the fields of Jewish communal welfare and education.

Mr. Frisch, who was descended from a long line of rabbis in Rumania, studied at a rabbinical seminary. He wrote extensively on the philosophy and organizational problems of the Zionist movement and his writings attracted worldwide attention.

He was the founder of the Indisnapolis Zionist District, and later served as president of the Chio Valley Zionist Region. Five years ago, prier to leaving Indiana polis for New York to take up parmanent residence, he was named the outstanding Jewish citizen of Indiana.

Mr. Frisch attended most of the sessions of the World Zionist Congress during the past two decades. In 1934 he was elected to the National Z.O.A. Administrative Council and later became its chairman. Until his election to the presidency of the Z.O.A. in May, 1949, he served as vice-president of the Z.O.A. and vice-chairman of its Inner Committee. During the nine months that he held office, Mr. Frisch visited Israel twice to lay the groundwork for the launching of Z.O.A. projects in the Jewish state. On his most recent visit to Israel, he broke ground for the erection of the Z.O.A. House at ceremonies attended by Fremier David Ben Gurion and other high government officials.


Z.O.A. headquarters here today released the text of a letter which Mr. Frisch dictated from his hospital bed on the eve of his operation. The letter, addressed to the officers of all Z.O.A. regions and districts, said:

“You might find it rather strange that one who, like myself, is facing an unavoidable major operation, should dictate from his hospital bed a letter to his friends–but strange things do happen in life. I trust you will believe me when, standing at the crossroads of life in more than one sense, I tell you that I am convinced that a strong Z.O.A. and a vigorous General Zionism (not Zionism in general), are as indispensable today to the welfare and growth of Israel, both as a state and as a people, as they have been.

“During the nine months of my presidency, I have given the Z.O.A. and the Zionist movement my very all. I have tried to manage the affairs of the Z.O.A. without regard to past politics or any attempt to settle old accounts. I have tried to do my very best. I think I have earned the right to call on others to do theirs.

“We are now facing the next convention. Believe me that, as I lie here, I have nothing on my mind concerning personalities that may compete for me position or another. All I am concerned with is that the dignity and power and usefulness of the Z.O.A. should be reflected in the next convention. We must come to the convention with a treasury capable of carrying us through the lean summer months and with a membership as large, if not larger, than a year ago. For the Z.O.A. cannot maintain its influence and its creativity without a large membership.”

The letter concluded with an appeal to Z.O.A. leaders throughout the United States to make special efforts between March 15 and May 15 for the success of the Z.O.A.’s drives in behalf of membership and the American Zionist Fund.

Benjamin G. Browdy, vice-president of the Z.O.A. and vice-chairman of the Inner Committee, has served as acting president of the Z.O.A. during Mr. Frisch’s illness.

Mr. Frisch is survived by his widow, Tillie, a daughter, Mrs. Marvin Bacaner, of Boston, and a son, Lazar, a student at the University of California.


Messages of condolences were issued today by Jewish leaders on the occasion of Mr. Frisch’s passing. Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the American Section of the Jewish Agency, in a wire to Benjamin G. Browdy, acting president of the Z.O.A., said that Mr. Frisch’s “unlimited devotion to the Zionist cause, his grasp of Zionist problems, his unshakable faith in the necessity of a strong Zionist movement, his love for Israel and for everything Jewish made him a source of strength for Zionist life.”

“The executive of the Jewish Agency,” Dr. Goldmann stated, “with whom he worked in close cooperation, wants at this sad hour to express its full appreciation of the great services he rendered to Zionism and its deep grief at his sudden and unexpected death. His name and personality and the record of his achievements will remain alive in the history of Zionism. In his devotion and enthusiasm he will remain an example for Zionists all over the world.”

Henry Morgenthau Jr., general chairman of the U.J.A., declared that Mr. Frisch “was imbued with a profound sense of the urgency of Jewish reconstruction overseas. His vigor and devotion in the service of his people will be keenly missed in the years ahead,” he said. Dr. Israel Goldstein, president of the World Confederation of General Zionists, stated that the death of Mr. Frisch “at the height of his Zionist career is a shock to the entire Zionist movement.”

Judge Morris Rothenberg, national chairman of the United Palestine Appeal, asserted that Mr. Frisch “dedicated his life to the development of a far-ranging program calculated to forge an unbreakable bond between the people of the United States and the Jews of Israel. The Zionist movement has lost a faithful and courageous leader who gave himself unsparingly for the velfare of his people,” the statement said.

The American Jewish Committee, in a statement issued by Jacob Blaustein, president, said that after Mr. Frisch’s “life-long devotion to the cause of Zionism, he came to the helm of the Z.O.A. where he continued to serve the ideals so close to his heart to the utmost of his ability and strength. The Committee profoundly regrets the death of Deniel Frisch in the prime of his life,” the statement said.

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