Moses Montefiore
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Sir Moses Haim Montefiore, 1st Baronet, (24 October 1784 – 28 July 1885) was a British financier and
banker A bank is a financial institution Financial institutions, otherwise known as banking institutions, are corporations that provide services as intermediaries of financial markets. Broadly speaking, there are three major types of financial in ...
, activist,
philanthropist Philanthropy consists of "private initiatives, for the Public good (economics), public good, focusing on quality of life". Philanthropy contrasts with business initiatives, which are private initiatives for private good, focusing on material gain, ...
and
Sheriff of London Two sheriffs are elected annually for the City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county and local government district that contains the historic centre and th ...

Sheriff of London
. Born to an Italian-Jewish family, he donated large sums of money to promote industry, business, economic development, education and health among the Jewish community in the
Levant The Levant () is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of Asia. It is entirely a part of the G ...

Levant
, including the founding of
Mishkenot Sha'ananim Mishkenot Sha'ananim ( he, משכנות שאננים, ''lit.'' Peaceful Dwellings) was the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, on a hill directly across from Mount Zion. Built in 1859–1860, it was t ...

Mishkenot Sha'ananim
in 1860, the first settlement outside Jerusalem's walled city. As President of the
Board of Deputies of British Jews The Board of Deputies of British Jews, commonly referred to as the Board of Deputies, is the largest and second oldest British Jews, Jewish communal organisation in the United Kingdom, after only the Initiation Society which was founded in 1745. ...
, his correspondence with the British consul in
Damascus )), is an adjective which means "spacious". , motto = , image_seal = Flag_of_Damascus.png , seal_type = Flag and Seal , map_caption = , pushpin_map ...
, Charles Henry Churchill, in 1841–42 is seen as pivotal to the development of
Proto-Zionism Proto-Zionism (or Forerunner of Zionism; he, מְבַשְרֵי הציונות, pronounced: ''Mevasrei ha-Tzionut'') is a term attributed to the ideas of a group of men deeply affected by the idea of modern nationalism Nationalism is an i ...
.


Early life

Moses Montefiore was born in Leghorn (
Livorno Livorno () is a port city on the Ligurian Sea on the western coast of Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Livorno, having a population of 158,493 residents in December 2017. It is traditionally known in English as Leghorn (pronoun ...

Livorno
in Italian),
Tuscany it, Toscano (man) it, Toscana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Citizenship , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = Italian , demograp ...
, in 1784, to a
Sephardic Jewish Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian Hebrew, Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or sefarditas), pt, Judeus se ...
family based in
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the List of European islands by area, largest European island, and the List of i ...

Great Britain
. His grandfather, Moses Vital (Haim) Montefiore, had emigrated from Livorno to London in the 1740s, but retained close contact with the town, then famous for its straw bonnets. Montefiore was born while his parents, Joseph Elias Montefiore and his young wife Rachel, the daughter of Abraham Mocatta, a powerful
bullion Bullion is non-ferrous metal that has been refined to a high degree of elemental purity. It ordinarily refers to bulk metal used in the production of coin A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of ...
broker in London, were in the town on a business journey.


Career

The family returned to
Kennington Kennington is a district in south London, England. It is mainly within the London Borough of Lambeth, running along the boundary with the London Borough of Southwark, a boundary which can be discerned from the early medieval period between the L ...
in London, where Montefiore went to school, but because of his family's precarious situation, Montefiore did not complete his schooling and he went out to work to help with the family's finances. He worked for a wholesale tea merchant and grocer and then entered a
counting house A counting house, or counting room, was traditionally an office in which the financial books of a business were kept. It was also the place that the business received appointments and correspondence relating to demands for payment. As the use of c ...
in the
City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county and local government district that contains the historic centre and the primary central business district (CBD) of London. It co ...
. In 1803 he entered the
London Stock Exchange London Stock Exchange (LSE) is a stock exchange in the City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county and local government district that contains the histori ...
, but lost all of his clients' money in 1806 in a fraud perpetrated by Elkin Daniels. As a result, he probably had to sell or hand in his broker's licence.Samet 1989, 23. In 1812, Montefiore became a
freemason Freemasonry or Masonry consists of fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons that from the end of the 14th century regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their interaction with autho ...
, joining the Moira Lodge, No. 92 of the
Premier Grand Lodge of England The organisation known as the Premier Grand Lodge of England was founded on 24 June 1717 as the 'Grand Lodge of London and Westminster'. Originally concerned with the practice of Freemasonry in London and Westminster, it soon became known as the G ...
in London. Between 1810 and 1814 Montefiore was part of the Surrey Militia. In 1815, he bought again a broker's licence, operated briefly a joint venture with his brother Abraham until 1816, and largely closed down his trading activities in 1820. In 1812, Moses Montefiore married Judith Cohen (1784–1862), daughter of
Levy Barent Cohen Levy Barent Cohen (1747 – 1808) was a Dutch-born British financier and community worker. Early life Levy Barent Cohen was born in Amsterdam in 1747. He was the son of Barent Cohen, a wealthy merchant. The Jewish Encyclopedia, Funk & Wagnalls, ...
. Her sister, Henriette (or Hannah) (1783–1850), married
Nathan Mayer Rothschild Nathan Mayer Rothschild (16 September 1777 – 28 July 1836) was a German Jewish banker, businessman and financier. Born in Frankfurt am Main Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main (; Hessian: ''Frangford am Maa'', " Frank ford ...

Nathan Mayer Rothschild
(1777–1836), for whom Montefiore's firm acted as stockbrokers. Nathan Rothschild headed the family's banking business in Britain, and the two brothers-in-law became business partners. In business, he was an innovator, investing in the supply of piped
gas Gas is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being solid, liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanics), deforms (flows) under an appl ...
for street lighting to European cities via the Imperial Continental Gas Association. In 1824 he was among the founding consortium of the Alliance Life Assurance Company (which later merged with Sun Insurance to form Sun Alliance (company), Sun Alliance). Though somewhat lax in religious observance in his early life, after his visit to the Holy Land in 1827, he became a strictly observant Jew. He was in the habit of traveling with a personal ''shohet'' (ritual slaughterer), to ensure that he would have a ready supply of kosher meat. Although Montefiore spent only a few days in Jerusalem, the 1827 visit changed his life. He resolved to increase his religious observance and to attend synagogue on Shabbat, as well as Mondays and Thursdays when the Torah is read. The visit had been a "spiritual transforming event" for him. In 1831, Montefiore purchased a country estate with twenty-four acres on the East Cliff of the then fashionable seaside town of Ramsgate. The property had previously been a country house of Caroline of Brunswick, Queen Caroline, when she was still Princess of Wales. It had then been owned by Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, the Marquess Wellesley, a brother of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, the Duke of Wellington. Soon afterwards, Montefiore purchased the adjoining land and commissioned his cousin, architect David Mocatta, to design a private synagogue, known as the Montefiore Synagogue. It opened with a grand public ceremony in 1833. Montefiore is mentioned in Charles Dickens' diaries, in the personal papers of George Eliot, and in James Joyce’s novel ''Ulysses (novel), Ulysses''. It is known that he had contacts with non-conformists and social reformers in Victorian England. He was active in public initiatives aimed at alleviating the persecution of minorities in the Middle East and elsewhere, and he worked closely with organisations that campaigned for the Abolitionism in the United Kingdom, abolition of slavery. A Government loan raised by the Rothschilds and Montefiore in 1835 enabled the British Government to Slave Compensation Act 1837, compensate plantation owners under the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 and thus abolish slavery in the Empire. In 1836 he became a governor of Christ's Hospital, the Bluecoat school, after assisting in the case of a distressed man who had appealed to Montefiore to help his soon-to-be-widowed wife and son. Physically imposing at , he was elected Sheriff of the City of London in 1837. He was also Knight Bachelor, knighted in November 1837.


Retirement

After retiring from business, Montefiore devoted the rest of his life to philanthropy. He was president of the
Board of Deputies of British Jews The Board of Deputies of British Jews, commonly referred to as the Board of Deputies, is the largest and second oldest British Jews, Jewish communal organisation in the United Kingdom, after only the Initiation Society which was founded in 1745. ...
from 1835 to 1874, a period of 39 years, the longest tenure ever, and member of Bevis Marks Synagogue. As president, his correspondence with the British consul in Damascus Charles Henry Churchill in 1841–42 is seen as pivotal to the development of History of Zionism#Proto-Zionism, Proto-Zionism. From retirement until the day he died, he devoted himself to philanthropy, particularly alleviating the distress of Jews abroad. He went to the sultan of the Ottoman Empire in 1840 to liberate from prison ten Syrian Jews of
Damascus )), is an adjective which means "spacious". , motto = , image_seal = Flag_of_Damascus.png , seal_type = Flag and Seal , map_caption = , pushpin_map ...
arrested after Damascus affair, a blood libel; to Rome in 1858 to try to free the Jewish youth Edgardo Mortara, who had been seized by the Catholic Church after an alleged baptism by a Catholic servant; to Russian Empire, Russia in 1846 (where he was received by the Tsar) and 1872; to Morocco in 1864 and to United Principalities, Romania in 1867. It was these missions that made him a folk hero of near mythological proportions among the oppressed Jews of Eastern Europe, North Africa and the
Levant The Levant () is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of Asia. It is entirely a part of the G ...

Levant
. He received a baronetcy in 1846 in recognition of his services to humanitarian causes on behalf of the Jewish people.


Philanthropy in Ottoman Palestine

In 1854 his friend Judah Touro, a wealthy American Jew, died having bequeathed money to fund Jewish residential settlement in Palestine. Montefiore was appointed executor of his will, and used the funds for a variety of projects aimed at encouraging the Jews to engage in productive labor. In 1855, he purchased an orchard on the outskirts of Jaffa that offered agricultural training to the Jews. In 1860, he built the first Jewish residential settlement and almshouse outside the old walled city of Jerusalem, today known as
Mishkenot Sha'ananim Mishkenot Sha'ananim ( he, משכנות שאננים, ''lit.'' Peaceful Dwellings) was the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, on a hill directly across from Mount Zion. Built in 1859–1860, it was t ...

Mishkenot Sha'ananim
. This became the first precursor of the New Yishuv. Living outside the city walls was dangerous at the time, due to lawlessness and bandits. Montefiore offered financial inducement to encourage poor families to move there. Montefiore intended Mishkenot Sha’ananim to be a new type of self-sufficient, sanitary settlement where Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews lived together. Later on, Montefiore established adjacent neighborhoods south of Jaffa Road, the Nachlaot, Ohel Moshe neighborhood for Sephardic Jews and the Mazkeret Moshe neighborhood for Ashkenazi Jews. Montefiore donated large sums of money to promote industry, education and health amongst the Jewish community in Palestine. The project, bearing the hallmarks of nineteenth-century artisanal revival, aimed to promote productive enterprise in the Yishuv. The builders were brought over from England. These activities were part of a broader program to enable the Old Yishuv to become self-supporting in anticipation of the establishment of a Jewish homeland. Montefiore built the Montefiore Windmill in an area which later became the Yemin Moshe neighbourhood, to provide cheap flour to poor Jews, established a printing press and textile factory, and helped to finance several Bilu agricultural colonies. He also attempted to acquire arable land for Jewish cultivation, but was hampered by Ottoman Empire, Ottoman restrictions on land sale to non-Muslims. The Jews of Old Yishuv referred to their patron as "''ha-Sar'' Montefiore" ('The Prince' or simply 'Prince' Montefiore), a title perpetuated in Hebrew literature and song. A major source of information about the Yishuv, or Jewish community in Palestine during the 19th century, is a sequence of censuses commissioned by Montefiore, in 1839, 1849, 1855, 1866 and 1875. The censuses attempted to list every Jew individually, together with some biographical and social information (such as their family structure, place of origin, and degree of poverty).


Later life and death

Montefiore played an important role in Ramsgate affairs, and one of the local ridings still bears his name. In 1845 he served as High Sheriff of Kent. In 1873, the year of his 89th birthday, a local newspaper mistakenly ran his obituary. "Thank God to have been able to hear of the rumour", he wrote to the editor, "and to read an account of the same with my own eyes, without using spectacles." The town celebrated his 99th and his 100th birthdays in great style, and every local charity (and church) benefited from his philanthropy. At East Cliff Lodge, he established a Sephardic ''yeshiva'' (Judith Lady Montefiore College) after the death of his wife in 1862. In the grounds he built the elegant, Regency architecture Montefiore Synagogue and mausoleum modeled on Rachel's Tomb outside Bethlehem (whose refurbishment and upkeep he had paid for). Judith was laid to rest there in 1862. Montefiore died in 1885, at age 100 years and 9 months. He had no known children, and his principal heir in name, arms and property was his nephew Sir Joseph Sebag-Montefiore (1822-1903) (born Joseph Sebag) a British banker, stockbroker and politician, the son of Montefiore's sister Sarah Montefiore and her husband Solomon Sebag. Sir Joseph's descendant the British historian Simon Sebag Montefiore (born 1965), revealed that his family believes Sir Moses to have fathered a child with a 16-year-old domestic servant, late in his life. The philanthropist Leonard A. Montefiore, Leonard Montefiore was a great-nephew of Sir Moses Montefiore. Sir Moses Montefiore was buried in the Montefiore Synagogue at Ramsgate. The estate was sold to the Borough of Ramsgate around 1952, and the Lodge was demolished in 1954. All that remains today is a new building housing a firm of architects which incorporates parts of the original structure, called the Coach House. There are also some outbuildings (including the Gate House) and the Italianate architecture, Italianate Greenhouse has been restored to its former glory in recent years. The Greenhouse and the rest of the estate has been turned into King George VI Memorial Park. On the Gate House, is a plaque to Sir Moses.


Legacy

The Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York (state), New York, is named for him. Montefiore Square, a small, triangular park in upper Manhattan's Hamilton Heights, Manhattan, Hamilton Heights neighborhood, is named for Montefiore Medical Center, which was formerly located to the north of the park at West 138th Street. A branch of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, also bears his name. Chicago's West Side is home to a reform school of higher education, Moses Montefiore Academy, named in honor of him. A number of synagogues were named in honor of Montefiore, including the 1913 ''Montifiore Institute,'' now preserved as the Little Synagogue on the Prairie. The Montefiore Club was a private social and business association, catering to the Jewish community, located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In Cleveland, Ohio one of the Jewish nursing homes is called Montefiore. In Israel, Montefiore is commemorated in several cities by Street or road name, streets named after him, as well as the neighborhoods of Kiryat Moshe, Zikhron Moshe, Yemin Moshe, Ohel Moshe (now Nachlaot), and Mazkeret Moshe in Jerusalem, and Montefiore, Tel Aviv, Montefiore in Tel Aviv. He was also commemorated on two Israeli banknotes. These were the 10 lirot, which was in circulation from 1970–79, and the 1-Old Israeli shekel, shekel, which was legal tender from 1980 to 1986. The Dolphin's Barn Jewish cemetery in Dublin, Ireland, is dedicated to Montefiore.


Anecdotes

Montefiore was renowned for his quick and sharp wit. A popularly circulated anecdote, possibly apocryphal, relates that at a dinner party he was once seated next to a nobleman who was known to be an Antisemitism, anti-Semite. The nobleman told Montefiore that he had just returned from a trip to Empire of Japan, Japan, where "they have neither pigs nor Jews." Montefiore is reported to have responded immediately, "in that case, you and I should go there, so it will have a sample of each" (a similar anecdote is told of Israel Zangwill.)Novak, William. ''The Big Book of Jewish Humor''. Harper, 1981. p. 83.


Coat of arms


See also

* History of the Jews in England * Mazkeret Moshe, Zikhron Moshe, Kiryat Moshe, and Yemin Moshe, neighborhoods in Jerusalem which bear his name * Montefiore, Tel Aviv, another neighborhood named after him * Montefiore Windmill, windmill in Jerusalem, erected due to Montefiore * Isaac Leib Goldberg (1860–1935), Zionist leader and philanthropist from Russia * Maurice de Hirsch (1831–1896), German Jewish financier and philanthropist, founder of the Jewish Colonization Association * Edmond James de Rothschild (1845–1934), French Jewish banker and major donor of the Zionist project


References


Bibliography

* * * *Kochan, Lionel. "The Life and Times of Sir Moses Montefiore." ''History Today'' (Jan 1973), Vol. 23 Issue 1, pp 46–52 online. * *


External links


Website of the Montefiore Endowment at Ramsgate

The Sir Moses Montefiore & Lady Judith Montefiore Heritage Site

Photos of Yemin Moshe
* * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Montefiore, Moses 1784 births 1885 deaths 19th-century Sephardi Jews Baronets in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom British centenarians Men centenarians British people of Italian-Jewish descent British Zionists Burials in Kent British bankers British financial businesspeople British philanthropists Italian emigrants to the Kingdom of Great Britain 19th-century Italian Jews Fellows of the Royal Society High Sheriffs of Kent Jewish British philanthropists Sephardi Jews in Ottoman Palestine Knights Bachelor Livornese Jews Presidents of the Board of Deputies of British Jews British Sephardi Jews Sheriffs of the City of London Sebag-Montefiore family, Moses Freemasons of the Premier Grand Lodge of England British abolitionists Jewish bankers 19th-century British businesspeople History of Jerusalem