Molho, Isaac Raphael

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MOLHO, ISAAC RAPHAEL (1894–1976), Greek journalist and Zionist. Molho was born in Salonika, a descendant of Rabbi Joseph Molho, author of Shulḥan Gaviyyah, and Rabbi Abraham di *Boton, author of Leḥem Rav. He studied at the talmud torah, the Alliance Israélite Universelle, and the Beit Yosef Rabbinical Seminary in Salonika. In Salonika he was active in commerce and journalism becoming a partner in the Recanati firm and founding the newspapers Pro-Israel (French) and La Renaissanca (Judeo-Spanish). Pro-Israel was the organ of the Zionist league, B'nai Moshe, which Molho started with Yitzhak David Cohen and Yitzhak Samuel Amarilio. He also served as librarian and secretary of the Kadima society, which disseminated the Hebrew language and culture. While a student at Beit Yosef, he worked as a reporter for the French daily newspaper La Liberte.

Molho worked to win the support of the French and the Italian governments as well as the Greek Parliament and government for the Balfour Declaration. In 1918 he met with the king of Greece, Alexandros, at the time Allenby conquered Jerusalem, and afterward in Salonika he organized a Jewish Legion to fight in Ereẓ Israel. In 1919 he emigrated to Jerusalem.

In Jerusalem he worked as an agent and representative of several film companies. He was manager of the Rainois film company and the Gaumont and Metro Goldwyn Mayer movie theaters for the entire region from Jerusalem to Teheran. Molho brought cinema to Baghdad and was elected chairman of the Film Distributors Union in Ereẓ Israel. He also helped organize the mass immigration of more than 15,000 Salonikan Jews to Ereẓ Israel, many of whom worked in fishing or as port workers. In 1924 he met with King Hussein Abu-Ali in Amman.

In Jerusalem, he was one of the founders of the Rehavia neighborhood, and also served as its chairman and "mukhtar." Also as a member of the Bayit ve-Gan neighborhood committee, he helped found its commercial center.

In Sephardi affairs, he was chairman of the Union of Sephardi Communities in Israel, and in 1938 he was elected by the World Zionist Organization executive and Jerusalem Sephardi Council as the Jerusalem delegate to the Amsterdam gathering of the World Union of Sephardi Communities and was later elected to the Union's Central Committee in Paris.

He was an active in the Jerusalem Municipality, was responsible for supervising apartment rental, and served as chairman of the property assessment committee. He was also was a member of the Council for General Education of the Va'ad ha-Le'ummi.

By befriending the Italian consul in Jerusalem he was able to get immigration certificates for some Rhodian Jews facing expulsion or help them reach Palestine clandestinely. In 1939, at the outset of World War ii, the British imprisoned him for 20 days because of his amicable relations with the Italian consul. During World War ii, he was an active member of the rescue committee for European Jewry, Al-Dami (Don't Keep Silent!).

He was an active member with Judah Leib *Magnes and Martin *Buber in *Berit Shalom. He also assisted in the founding of the *Iḥud movement and Kedmah Mizrahah in the interest of making peace with the Arabs of Ereẓ Israel.

Molho edited the journal Oẓar Yehudei Sepharad and was also one of the founders of Ha-Hed ("The Echo"). He wrote in the Hebrew dailies Davar, Ha-Ẓofeh, and Do'ar ha-Yom in Ereẓ Israel, the French Sephardi press of Egypt and France, and the Judeo-Spanish press in Salonika until the Holocaust.

He compiled several volumes of the Enẓikopedyah Le-Ẓiyyonut under the editorship of Moshe Kleinman. His books include Be-Ha'ir ha-Mizraḥ; Los Diversas Tintativas de Reconstituir la Nationalidad Judiya; Rav Moshe Almosnino, Ḥayav ve-Sefarav; Yosef Marko Barukh; and Tur Ha-Zahav be-Toledot Saloniki be-Dorot ha-Aḥaronim.


J. Heller, From Brit Shalom to Ichud, Judah Leib Magnes and the Struggle for a Binational State in Palestine (2003), 146; Yad Ben Zvi Archives, files 6–4–5–4, 6–4-5–8; Davar (June 24, 1966); M.D. Gaon, Yehudei Mizraḥ be-Ereẓ Yisrael, part 2 (1938), 382, 733–34; D.A. Recanati (ed.), Zikhron Saloniki, 2 (1986), 512; D. Tidhar, Enẓiklopedyah le-Ḥaluẓei ha-Yishuv u-Vonav, vol. 4 (1950), 1984–85; H.A. Toledano et. al. (eds.), Avraham ha-Ivri, 7–17.

[Yitzchak Kerem (2nd ed.)]