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About the Benefactor

 

ezri

MEIR EZRI (1922-2015)

BIOGRAPHY

Rabi Meir Ezri was born in 1922 in the city of Esfahan, Iran.  His father Zion Ezri was the leader of the Jewish city community of Esfahan.  At the age of 15, Meir Ezri founded the Halutz Jewish youth group in his native city.  The main purpose of the group was to promote Zionist activity.  This included teaching Hebrew and general education as well as communal aid and charity efforts.  He also started building support networks for defending Jews and promoting the idea of emigration to "Palestina, Eretz Israel" and helping build the Jewish state.  When Ezri moved to Teheran, he continued his youth group projects.  Subsequently, Jewish youth group chapters were established throughout the country.  Ezri was involved in organizing the aliyah of rural Iranian Jews and Jewish refugees from Iraq via Iran, en route to Israel during the first two years of the state.

In 1950, Meir Ezri immigrated to Israel.   Upon his arrival, the Jewish Agency appointed him as head of the absorption of all Iraqi and Iranian immigrants to Israel, Many of whom he had known from the Jewish refugee camp in Teheran.

Among his other achievements, Ezri established and edited the newspaper “Kochav HaMizrach” (Star of the east), the only Persian language newspaper in the world published outside of Iran at the time.  Kochav ha-Mizrach continued to be published monthly until recently, with the editing and publishing supervised by Meir Ezri.

In 1957, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion appointed Meir Ezri on a special mission to establish diplomatic relations between the State of Israel and Iran.   Meir Ezri vastly exceeded the expectations of the mission.  He established close diplomatic relations with the government in Iran in all spheres.  Meir Ezri joined the professional diplomat, Dr. Zvi Doriel, in 1958 and shortly after was appointed as the Israeli ambassador to Iran. He held this position continuously until 1973.  

Throughout his mission to Iran, Ezri was awarded many decorations by the Shah and the government of Iran.  The Shah awarded him the highest decoration, the “Taj” (the King’s Crown).  The Iranian Minister of Agriculture also presented Ezri with a special award for strengthening the relations between Israel and Iran, following Israel’s unprecedented aid to Iran after the earthquake in Qazvin.  Meir Ezri was also awarded the “Shir-O-Khorshid” (Lion and Sun) medal from the Red Crescent for his assistance to the victims of the Qazvin and Shiraz earthquakes.

Not only was Ezri active diplomatically, he was also very active in philanthropic projects promoting donations to development projects in Israel.  In 1982, Ezri founded the "World Organization of Iranian Jews", which is active throughout the world in promoting the different interests of Iranian Jews.  The Organization also enlists donors for philanthropic enterprises, not only for the Persian community but also for the general population.  Notably, the organization has been involved in efforts to release Jewish prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran and supporting the Jews who remained in Iran after the revolution in 1979.  Through the World Organization of Iranian Jews, Ezri united all the Iranian Jewish establishments and organizations under one roof.  

In November 1997, Ezri was awarded the “Yakir Yerushalayim” medal, granted for outstanding services and actions for the city of Jerusalem and its citizens.  

In December 2000, Meir Ezri completed the writing of his autobiography “The Legacy of Cyrus”.  The book was published in Hebrew, Persian, and English.

In 2006, Ezri realized his dream of founding the Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at the University of Haifa.  The mission of the Ezri Center is to promote research, achieve a deeper understanding of the society, economy, politics, religion and culture of Iran and other countries of the Persian Gulf within the region as a whole.

During his last years, Ezri’s health prevented him from taking an active part in public gatherings, but he still he dedicated his limited energy to promote and assist Jewish Iranian causes. He was also active in supporting soup kitchens, distributing hundreds of meals a day to people in need, and providing financial support for vital medical treatments not covered by the national medical insurance.  

Meir Ezri’s passion, to which he devoted time and energy throughout his life, was studying and collecting Judaic art inspired by the Bible and Jewish tradition.

Meir Ezri lived in Israel, was married to his wife Miriam and had two daughters and a son; he also had five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

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