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Franco, Avraham

FRANCO, AVRAHAM

FRANCO, AVRAHAM (1894–1993), Sephardi leader. Franco was born and raised in Hebron where his father was a religious leader. He had a traditional religious education and succeeded his father as shoḥet of the Sephardi community. In Hebron he taught Arabic at the New Talmud Torah but went on to study pharmacy, becoming the pharmacist of the Hebron municipality.

In World War i he served in the Turkish army, and after the war was a pharmacist at the Rothschild Hospital (which became the Hadassah Hospital) in Jerusalem. He then entered government service as a translator and became secretary of the Jerusalem municipality. As secretary of the Sephardi Federation, he introduced organizational changes in Jerusalem's Sephardi Public Council.

After the 1929 Hebron riots, he was active on behalf of the Hebron refugees, in aid of whom he went to London where he raised money, enabling some of the families to return to Hebron.

In 1947, Franco, as a Jewish employee of the Jerusalem municipality, was a target for assassination by Arabs. Sometime after escaping a bombing attempt aimed against the Jewish employees, two Arabs saved him from being stabbed by a potential assassin who entered the municipality specifically to kill him.

As secretary of the municipal council, he served as a bridge between Jews and Arabs. His experiences growing up in Hebron and living with Arabs helped him considerably in making friendships and initiating Jewish-Arab cooperation.

[Yitzhak Kerem]

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