Great Leaders of our People
Born in Italy but
raised in London, Montefiore was taught Hebrew and the elements of his
faith by his uncle. He became a stockbroker and in 1812 married Judith
Cohen, thereby becoming brother-in-law to Nathan Mayer Rothschild. After
1824, he devoted himself to philanthropy and community affairs. He was
influential in stimulating the rise of Jewish nationalism, the forerunner
of political Zionism.
Moses Montefiore was
knighted by Queen Victoria for his many achievements in the first part of
his long life:
Becoming, at age 19,
one of the twelve Jewish stockbrokers licensed by the City of London
Holding a seat on the
London Stock Exchange
Being among the
founders of the Imperial Continental Gas Association, that brought gas
lighting to many cities in Europe
Being a member of the
Being Sheriff of
significant, these achievements pale before his accomplishments later in
He visited “Eretz
Yisrael” seven times between 1827 and 1875, helping set up hospitals,
establish synagogues, agricultural settlements, etc.
In 1855 he bought a
plot of land outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem and in 1860 he
established “Mishkenot Sha’ananim,” the first residential Jewish area
outside the walls, there. Built for Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews, the
community included a ritual bath and a (now-famous as a tourist site)
wind-driven flour mill.
To help make Jews
self-sufficient, he introduced a printing press and a textile factory.
He visited Russia in
1846, Morocco in 1863 and Romania in 1867 to attempt to intervene with
those governments to stop persecution of the Jews.
A physical giant of a
man at 6’3”, and a spiritual giant as well, and as an incredibly generous
and visionary philanthropist, he earned great respect worldwide. His100th
birthday was observed as a holiday in many communities.
The above graphic includes photographs that were provided by VERAfilm archives.