More than four years ago, I blogged about my father's first-cousin, Jacques Torczyner, here and here. I greatly regret to inform you that he passed away a week ago.
All week, I've been reading the canned bio's put out by JTA and the like; they are pretty underwhelming for someone who lived the life he did. I was glad to read something more real on Friday, from JWeekly. Here's an excerpt; the full article is here:
Urbane, multilingual, well traveled, Jacques Torczyner came across as
a citizen of the world. He was. Yet his life’s work focused on one
place, Israel, and one cause, Zionism.
With Torczyner’s death March 7 in Saratoga, the world lost one of the last pioneers of modern Zionism. He was 98.
The Belgian native spent many evenings in his youth at the feet of
Zionist visionaries. He later fled Hitler for the safety of America,
where he rallied Jews to the cause of a Jewish state. He spent the rest
of his life stirring others to align with Israel.
“Jacques was a monumental figure in the world Zionist movement,” said
Torczyner’s friend, radio personality and author John Rothmann. “He was
part of Israel’s history from 1948, he witnessed all the great
movements, knew all the Zionist leaders and was committed to bringing
Israel to future generations.”
Said Robert Torczyner of his father, “He had extremely good political
insight and was a very persuasive person. He was very instrumental in
the creation of the State of Israel, from the standpoint of gathering
support needed for the Zionist movement leading up to 1948.”
Torczyner grew up in Antwerp in a strongly Zionist household. His father was president of the Belgian Zionist Federation, and their home was a mandatory stop for Jewish leaders from Palestine, among them Nachum Goldman and Chaim Weizmann.
Soon after Germany invaded Belgium in May 1940, Torczyner and his
wife, Berthe, as well as members of their extended families, fled to
France, then Spain and, eventually, to Cuba. Once they obtained visas,
the couple settled in Manhattan, living in a cozy West Side apartment
for 55 years.
Though he maintained the family’s diamond business, Torczyner focused
on Israel. He became active with the Zionist Organization of America
and in July 1945 attended a pivotal New York meeting called by David
Ben-Gurion to organize American support for the Jewish armed forces in
יהי זכרו ברוך.