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ZOA Mourns Loss of 'Tireless, Galvanizing Zionist Leader'

ZOA mourns the loss of Jacques Torczyner, legendary Zionist leader and former president of, who passed away at the age of 98.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 3/13/2013, 10:08 PM

symbolic Jewish cemetery
symbolic Jewish cemetery
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has extended its heartfelt condolences to the family of Jacques Torczyner, legendary Zionist leader and former president of the ZOA, who passed away Thursday night at the age 98.

Born in Belgium in 1914, Jacques Torczyner came to the U.S. in 1940, having escaped the Nazi invasion of Belgium. He became involved very quickly with the ZOA, of which he served as National President from 1968 until 1973. He was was Emeritus President of the organization until his passing.

“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 ZOA National President Morton A. Klein.

“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.

“He had virtually no equal as an orator promoting Israel and the Jewish people. His remarkable oratorical gifts, in what was his second language (his first language having been French) are still remembered today by those who had the privilege of hearing him.

“But mostly, Jacques was a fabled supporter and champion of the ZOA. He was a close confidante of every ZOA president from Stephen Wise to Abba Hillel Silver to Rabbi Joseph Sternstein, Ivan Novick, Milton Shapiro and myself. The ZOA was the Jewish institutional love of his life. While living in New York, he attended every board meeting. Jacques was always thinking of ZOA and advising us in myriad ways to render our work still more effective.

“It was a great honor for me to call this great Jewish leader my friend. All of us at the ZOA and in the Jewish world salute him. We will miss him terribly. It is the passing of an era” said Morton A. Klein, president of the ZOA. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wonderful wife, Berthe, and all his family.”