Gaon, Nessim David

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GAON, NESSIM DAVID (1922– ), philanthropist and communal worker. Gaon's family originated in Turkey but moved to Egypt. His father was a political officer with the Sudanese government in Khartoum, where he was born. He graduated from the Comboni College in that city. During World War ii he joined the British army in Cairo and was subsequently commissioned as a lieutenant, seeing active service in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Italy, and North Africa. After his discharge in 1946 with the rank of captain, he joined the family business in the Sudan. In 1957 Gaon moved to Geneva where he built up a world-wide business corporation in import-export, investment, and real estate, including one of Geneva's biggest hotels, the Noga Hilton.

Gaon is prominent in Jewish communal affairs. In Khartoum he served as secretary and vice president of the Jewish community and succeeded in uniting the Ashkenazi and Sephardi congregations in Geneva, becoming president of the United Community in 1966.

Gaon's main communal activity has been with regard to the Sephardi community and in the academic world, in addition to his munificent contributions to Israel. He has served as president of the *World Sephardi Federation since 1971; He was a vice president of the World Jewish Congress.

In 1971 he became a member of the Board of Governors of Bar-Ilan University and two years later of Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba of which he was appointed chairman of the Board of Governors.