Jacques Torczyner, Zionist Leader, Dies at 98

Belgian Jew Escaped the Holocaust, Went on To Lead ZOA

By JTA

Published March 13, 2013.
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Jacques Torczyner, a leader in the Zionist movement in the United States and around the world, has died.

Jacques Torczyner
courtesy of world jewish congress
Jacques Torczyner

Torczyner died March 7 in Saratoga, California at the age of 98.

Torczyner served as national president for the Zionist Organization of America from 1968 until 1973. He was emeritus president of the ZOA until his death.

Born in Antwerp, Belgium, Torczyner escaped the Nazis and came to the United States in 1941.

A founding member at the behest of David Ben Gurion of the Friends of the Haganah to support the Jewish forces in British Mandate Palestine, Torczyner worked closely with Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver as he pressed for support for the establishment of a Jewish state from the American Jewish community, American politicians and the United Nations.

From 1974 to 1977 he was chairman of the American section of the World Jewish Congress. He was a member of the executive of the World Zionist Organization from 1972 until 1998, heading up its Foreign Relations Department and the Herzl Institute.

He was appointed a member of the American UNESCO Committee, and served on the Holderman Committee, which recommended that the United States leave UNESCO; he later served as an advisor to UNESCO Director General Federico Mayor.

“Jacques Torczyner was a tireless and galvanizing figure in American Zionism. He was a leading and active member of every important Zionist committee, flying to Israel regularly,” said Morton Klein, ZOA national president, in a statement.

“Born three years before the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, his life spanned the history of modern Zionism, in which he played an outsized role. He knew every Israeli prime minister, from David Ben Gurion to Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin to Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu. Jacques was close to all the leaders of Israel and many of the leading political figures in America,” Klein said.

Torczyner is survived by his wife of 74 years, Berthe, a son, granddaughters and great grandchildren.


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