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Ezra Shapiro Dead at 74

May 16, 1977
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Funeral services were held here today for Ezra Z. Shapiro, world chairman of the Keren Hayesod and a Zionist leader in Israel and the United States for more than a half century, who died here yesterday at the age of 74. Mr. Shapiro had been ill for several weeks. His funeral was preceded by a special mourning session of the Keren Hayesod, Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives.

Shapiro was born in Poland on May 7, 1903 and was brought to the United States as a child. He earned a low degree at Ohio State University and was a practicing attorney in Cleveland for many years where he was also active in Jewish community and Zionist affairs. In 1934 he was elected chairman of the national executive committee of the Zionist Organization of America and, beginning in 1937, he participated at seven World Zionist Congresses.

At the 1951 Congress, he served as chairman of the Committee on Fundamental Problems which drafted the Jerusalem Program that re-defined Zionist goals for the post-State era. He was elected in 1956 to the Zionist General Council (Actions Committee) and in 1972 to the WZO and Jewish Agency Executives. He became world chairman of Keren Hayesod in 1971 by which time he had settled permanently in Jerusalem.


Shapiro was a member of the National Board of Governors of the Israel Bond Organization from 1951-65 and a national vice-president of the United Jewish Appeal from 1955-66. His activities in Cleveland included service as a trustee and as president of the Jewish Community Federation between 1935-70, and president of the Bureau of Jewish Education.

On the level of national Jewish affairs, he was a vice-president of the American Association for Jewish Education from 1959-66; a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Friends of the Weizmann Institute of Science; and a trustee of the American Friends of the Hebrew University. Since 1971 he had served on the boards of governors of the Weizmann Institute, the Hebrew University and the Negev University at Beersheba.

In 1945 Mr. Shapiro was one a group of 19 American Jews summoned by David Ben Gurion to organize American support for Haganah. He was president of the World Confederation of General Zionists.

In a eulogy delivered at the mourning session, S.J. Kreutner, director general of Keren Hayesod, described Shapiro as a man “universally loved and respected by all those who were privileged to know him and work with him. His humanity and nobility of spirit were a constant source of inspiration for the leaders, co-workers and contributors of the Keren Hayesod appeals throughout the world to increase their efforts on behalf of Israel. The world-wide family of Keren Hayesod has lost not only its world chairman but also a father and mentor.”

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