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Baron Maurice de Hirsch (1831 – 1896)

Baron Maurice de Hirsch, or Baron Hirsch, was a German-Jewish businessman, philanthropist and the founder of the “Jewish Colonization Association.” He was born to a wealthy family of bankers and was himself a distinguished banker in Brussels. Baron Hirsch took part in funding a railway connecting between Europe and the Middle East and contributed significant sums to the “Alliance Israelite Universelle,” which used his finances to establish its educational facilities.

Following the riots in Russia during the 1880’s, Baron Hirsch offered his assistance to the Russian Government in establishing educational facilities for the Jewish community. His offer was declined and Baron Hirsch began promoting Jewish agricultural settlements worldwide; among them were settlements for Jewish refugees from the Russian Empire in Brazil and Argentina. He referred to Zionism as a far-fetched fantasy, but he did believe in the return of the Jewish people to agricultural work.

Baron Hirsch wed Clara and had a son (who passed away at age 31) and a daughter (who died in infancy). His wife continued to support his work after his death.

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