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Author photo. Sir Moses Haim Montefiore, 1st and last Bt.

Sir Moses Haim Montefiore, 1st and last Bt.

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Sir Moses Montefiore was a towering figure in the history of 19th century Jewish life -- and not just because of his imposing six-foot-tall stature. Born in Italy to a family of English Jews, he grew up in London and was apprenticed to a firm of grocers. He worked his way up to become a wealthy and influential banker in Victorian England who mingled freely with the British elite. He worked for many years in partnership with Nathan Rothschild, his brother-in-law. After Sir Moses retired from business, he used his great wealth for humanitarian and civic projects in England and Palestine. He also travelled on missions to relieve the suffering of Jews and other oppressed minorities and fight slavery. He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1838 and made a baronet a few years later. Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx is named for him.
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