Sir Moses Montefiore Resource Pack
Who was Moses Montefiore?
Moses Montefiore was born on October 24, 1784 in Livorno, Italy while his parents were visiting their Italian family. The Montefiore family returned to London where Moses grew up, was educated, and began his career in business. He became one of the twelve “Jew Brokers” – Jewish merchants who had the right to trade on the London exchange.
In 1812, he married Judith Cohen, whose sister was married to Nathan Mayer Rothschild. The two brothers-in-law became successful business partners, until in Moses retired from business in 1824 and began a civic career. He was elected sheriff of London in 1837, the same year in which he was knighted by Queen Victoria. In 1846, he was made a baron in recognition of his work on behalf of the Jewish People.
After retiring from business, Montefiore devoted his life to philanthropy. He invested much money and effort helping Jews throughout the world, travelling to Syria, Italy, Russia, Morocco, and Romania to protect Jews from blood libels, pogroms, and other troubles. He was president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews from 1835–1874 and a member of London’s Bevis Marks Synagogue.
Sir Moses Montefiore died in 1885 at the age of 100. He was a very well-known public figure and is mentioned in literature of the period such as in Charles Dicken’s diaries, George Elliot’s personal papers, and James Joyce’s Ulysses. In Israel, he is perhaps best known for building Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the first Jewish neighbourhood outside the walls of the Old City in Jerusalem. He also donated large sums of money to the promotion of industry, education, and health among the Jewish community of Palestine. One of these projects was the building of a windmill that still stands next to the Yemin Moshe neighbourhood that was named after him.