Jewish philanthropist Marcus Katz passed away last night at the age of 89. His funeral will take place tomorrow (Thursday) at 5:30 pm at the Har Hamenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem.
Katz, a holocaust survivor and owner of honorary Doctorates from NYU and Bar-Ilan University, was renowned for his contribution to promoting reconciliation between Halakha (Jewish law) and modern life. He established the Marcus Katz award, given annually to outstanding contributors in the area.
Among those receiving the award during its 41-year existence were: Rabbi Zalman Nehamiah Goldberg, one of the great Halakhic decisors of the generation; Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, philosopher, theologian and former Chief Rabbi of the UK and the Commonwealth; Rabbi Yehoshua Yeshaya Neuwirth, author of a prominent book on the laws of Shabbat; Rabbi Tzvi Herschel Shachter, one of the heads of Yeshiva University; Dr. Hanna Katan; and the “Mishpetei Eretz” institute headed by Rabbi Avi Gisser, which is dedicated to applying Halakhic reasoning to modern legal problems.
Katz first arrived in Israel at age 14, escaping from Nazi Germany. His father joined him several months after and they were then joined by his mother as well two years after that.
In 1947 Katz and his family moved to Mexico and at 20 years old he was appointed principal of the Jewish school in Monterrey. He met his wife, Adina, Mexico.
Though they built their life far from Israel, Marcus and Adina Katz’s ethical conscience was always directed towards the holy land, and they worked to strengthen ties with the Jewish state and to establish it’s Jewish and Zionist identity.
Katz immediately stood out as a successful industrialist, legal scholar, and leader in the Jewish community, but above all he was a teacher and educator that understood the importance of the connection between the Diaspora and Israel.
Upon the death of his mother, Golda, Marcus and Adina Katz decided to make their way of life into their life’s work. In 1975 they established the Katz award, named after Golda Katz.
In 1985 the Katz’s founded the “Emuna” (faith) Yeshiva in Mexico, that provides children and teenagers in the community with a modern religious and Zionist education from 1st through 12th grade.
Katz formed and nurtured true friendships with important figures in Israeli politics and society, thus continuing to work to strengthen ties between Israel and the Diaspora.
The Katz family’s philanthropic activity expanded into other fields as the years went by. They dedicated most of their time to helping Israeli society, donating to dozens of Israeli causes in the fields of education, health and industry.