Biography of Centenarian Sir Moses Montefiore Part 1

About the Jewish centenarian Sir Moses Montefiore, biography and history, diet and advice for longevity.

A LESSON IN LONGEVITY

SIR MOSES MONTEFIORE (1784-1885)

The lot of the Jew was riddled with misery and persecution in 19th-century England, just as it had been elsewhere in the world for 2,000 years. Still, by the time of his death in 1885 at the age of 101, the great Anglo-Jewish philanthropist and humanitarian Sir Moses Montefiore had worked immeasurable improvements in the conditions of Jewish life--in Britain, on the Continent, and in the Middle East.

Despite the marginal status of Jews, Montefiore was born "with all the advantages." He was the son of a wealthy merchant and the nephew of several respected London brokers, who secured for him a position on the London Stock Exchange, where he was one of only 12 Jews allowed to do business. In partnership with Nathan Rothschild, the young Montefiore established a bank in Ireland, the South Eastern Railway, the Alliance Assurance Company, and an international gas company. He amassed enough money to retire in 1824 at the age of 40.

Retirement allowed Montefiore, an orthodox Jew, to pursue wholeheartedly his life's passion--the emancipation and betterment of Jews everywhere. In 1827 he made the first and most grueling of seven visits to Palestine, accompanied by his wife, Judith. (The other trips were in 1838, 1849, 1855, 1857, 1866, and 1875--when he was 91.) His immediate concern was to establish agricultural settlements, and he provided money for livestock, farm implements, building supplies, seed, and other agricultural necessities. When Montefiore returned to England, he joined the United Deputies of British Jews and worked to oppose the new Reform movement and to end anti-Semitic discrimination in the British Isles. In 1837 he was made a sheriff of London and became the first Jew in modern times to be knighted.

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