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Henry Montor

MONTOR, HENRY (1905–1982), U.S. organization executive and Zionist. Montor, born in Canada, was taken to the U.S. as a boy. He was active in Zionist affairs from his youth and assistant editor of New Palestine (1926–30). During his service with the United Palestine Appeal (1930–39) and as executive vice president of the United Jewish Appeal (1939–50), Montor directed the raising of previously unparalleled amounts from overseas Jewry for Israel. In 1939, as chief fundraiser for the United Palestine Appeal, he approached the prolific Zionist organizer Meyer *Weisgal about Jewish participation in the New York World's Fair. The Jewish Palestine Pavilion, which Weisgal claimed was "the first Palestine exhibit at an international exposition in the United States," attracted record-breaking crowds. The presence of Albert Einstein at the opening helped produce the largest single day's attendance in the history of the fair. In all, a total of more than two million people were estimated to have visited the pavilion.

Although Montor was an ardent Zionist, the prevailing Zionist aim at the time was for "selective" immigration to build a Jewish state, not the rescue of Jewish refugees. Therefore in 1940 Montor, as executive vice president of the United Jewish Appeal, refused to intervene for a shipload of Jewish refugees stranded on the Danube. He wrote a letter to a rabbi in Maryland stating that "Palestine cannot be flooded with … old people or with undesirables." He circulated thousands of copies of the letter, which asked Jews not to support illegal immigration to Palestine.

Yet for the UJA, Montor is credited with being the first man to have the conviction to set $100 million as a campaign goal – and attain it. As vice president and chief executive of the American Financial and Development Corporation for Israel (1951–55), Montor established the Israel Bonds campaigns and supervised the sale of approximately $190 million worth of bonds for Israel. He resigned his position as head of the State of Israel Bonds organization in 1955 to found his own brokerage firm.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.