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Sonneborn, Rudolf Goldschmidt


SONNEBORN, RUDOLF GOLDSCHMIDT (1898–1986), U.S. businessman and Zionist leader. Sonneborn was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He served as a navy pilot during World War i. In 1920 he joined his family's oil and chemical firm, L. Sonneborn and Sons of New York City, with which he remained associated. He was a director of the Commercial State Bank and Trust Company of New York, and president of the American Financial and Development Corporation for Israel and the Israel American Petroleum Corporation. Sonneborn was first attracted to Zionism during his student years. In 1919, when he was 21, he served on the *Zionist Commission to Palestine and journeyed alone to Damascus to confer with Emir Feisal. His wide connections in the American-Jewish community well equipped him as leader of a small group of prominent American Jews, called the Sonneborn Institute, who worked secretly with the Haganah in the years after World War ii to provide the Palestine yishuv with desperately needed arms, ships (including the famous Exodus), and supplies. After the establishment of the State of Israel, the group continued its activities as Materials for Israel, of which Sonneborn was president until 1955. In addition to his business activities on behalf of the Jewish State, Sonneborn served in executive capacities with the United Jewish Appeal, the United Israel Appeal, and the Zionist Organization of America. He married Dorothy *Schiff, owner and publisher of the New York Post.

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L. Goldstein, The Pledge (2001).

[Hillel Halkin]

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