Israel, Wilfrid

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ISRAEL, WILFRID

ISRAEL, WILFRID (1899–1943), Jewish communal figure. He was a member of a German merchant family prominent in Berlin from the mid-18th century. The family engaged in commerce and was active in Jewish affairs and in pioneering in employees' welfare. Their dry goods business, which became one of Berlin's largest department stores, was founded by nathan israel (1782–1852) in 1815 and was sold in accordance with German anti-Jewish regulations in 1939. Wilfrid Israel was active in the all-encompassing Jewish Zentralausschuss fuer Hilfe und Aufbau and Kinder- und Jugend-Aliyah, established following Hitler's rise to power as well as in the *Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden. Under the political pressure he gave up his commercial enterprise and emigrated to England in 1939, where he became a board member of the *Jewish Colonization Association (ica) and helped in 1941 create the Association of Jewish Refugees in Great Britain. He was deeply interested in Palestine, especially in the Ben Shemen Youth Village and kibbutz *Ha-Zore'a, established by German Jewish youth, and he made plans to emigrate there. In 1943 he volunteered for a mission to Spain and Portugal to rescue European refugees under Jewish Agency auspices. He died when the plane in which he was returning to England was shot down by the Luftwaffe. His art collection was bequeathed to kibbutz Ha-Zore'a, where it is displayed in the Wilfrid Israel House for Oriental Art and Studies.

bibliography:

Reissner, in: ylbi, 3 (1958); idem, Wilfred Israel, July 11th, 1899June 1st, 1943 (1944). add. bibliography: W.M. Behr, "In Memoriam Wilfrid Israel," in: H.A. Strauss and K.R. Grossmann (eds.), Gegenwart im Rueckblick (1970), 296–98; N. Shepherd, Wilfrid Israel (1985); idem, A Refuge from DarknessWilfrid Israel and the Rescue of the Jews (1984).