Fischel, Harry

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FISCHEL, HARRY (1865–1948), U.S. businessman and philanthropist. Fischel was born in Meretz, Russia, and emigrated in 1885 to the United States, settling in New York City. There he entered the construction and real estate business and built up a sizable company employing largely Jewish builders, to whom he granted both Saturday and Sunday as paid days off at a timewhen the six-day week was universal in the trade. Fischel also soon became involved in Jewish communal affairs, concentrating on a number of institutions with which he remained associated in various capacities for the remainder of his life, particularly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (after 1890), Beth Israel Hospital (after 1900), and the American Jewish Committee (after 1906). Shortly after the Balfour Declaration, he was active in the establishment of a number of development companies in Palestine. In 1932 he retired from business and devoted himself entirely to his philanthropic endeavors, which included the endowment of the Harry Fischel Foundation for Research in Talmud in Palestine (1933), and large donations to Yeshiva University during the depression of the 1930s. His attempts to get the New York Sabbath laws to recognize Saturday as the official Jewish day of rest are recorded in the biography of him by his son-in-law, Herbert Samuel *Goldstein, Forty Years of Struggle for a Principle (1928). Fischel died in Jerusalem, where he spent the final year of his life.