סיון רהב-מאיר
סיון רהב-מאיר צילום: עצמי

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin (http://inthelandoftheJews.blogspot.com)

Most of you never heard of *Kurt Rothschild* who passed away yesterday at the age of 101, unless you are an acitivist for Jewish and Israeli causes, but it is reasonable to assume that most of you benefited from him in some way. He was the engine behind numerous organizations and institutions in the Jewish world - from World Mizrahi (the religious Zionist movement), in which he served as president, to Yad Sarah (volunteer-based health and home care in Israel), from the Shaare Zedek Medical Center, to Bar-Ilan University, to say nothing of Jewish education in the Diaspora, concern for Jews in the Commonwealth nations, establishment of communities in Israel's outlying areas, and many other projects.

Here are a few lessons that I learned from him:

*1. The value of money depends on how it is used*. Rothschild was born in Germany. He was forced to leave during the Second World War and immigrated to Canada where he was imprisoned for a year and a half while awaiting a residency permit. He eventually raised a family and built a highly successful construction business. As a wealthy man, he invested most of his energy and financial resources in acts of tzedakah. It would be difficult to assess how many millions of dollars he contributed from his own money or solicited from others on behalf of Israel. "The most important thing to me is Jewish continuity," he said again and again.

*2. Getting credit is not the main thing*. You did not hear about him day and night because living a meaningful life of action does not depend on being in the news. In Israel, as we head toward a fifth round of elections within three years, when everyone wants to be a leader, Rothschild is a reminder that leadership is not only political. He was a man who did a lot more than many so-called leaders whom we speak about non-stop.

*3. You can remain active until the end*. A few years ago, I was privileged to host a celebratory event held in honor of his birthday. All those who spoke noted that even while nearing a hundred years, he still came to work in his office in downtown Jerusalem every morning. Although he recently began to weaken, many saw him walking slowly down Jerusalem's streets each evening on his way to a Torah class. Even after a century of non-stop doing and building, he still had something to learn, old but like a young student at heart.

Op-ed Editor Rochel Sylvetsky, who knew Kurt z"l for many years, adds that he also taught that behaving in a refined, courtly and pleasant manner that makes everyone feel important is an extremely effective form of leadership and often leads others to modify their own behavior. Kurt Rothschild always came through with aid to Israeli institutions, but I remember best the phone call I received from him asking me to deliver the checks he was sending personally to several families of terror victims during the Intifada.

In his memory.