World Jewish Congress mourns former Secretary General Michael Schneider - World Jewish Congress

World Jewish Congress mourns former Secretary General Michael Schneider

‘One of the unsung heroes of the Jewish people,’ says WJC President Ronald S. Lauder

World Jewish Congress mourns former Secretary General Michael Schneider

NEW YORK -- The World Jewish Congress and more than 100 affiliated Jewish communities across the globe mourn former WJC Secretary General Michael Schneider, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 83.

Schneider served as WJC Secretary General from 2007 to 2010, after a long and illustrious career as Executive Vice President of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. After his retirement, he served as WJC Secretary General Emeritus until 2018.

“Michael is one of the unsung heroes of the Jewish people,” said WJC President Ronald S. Lauder. “He was personally responsible for rescuing thousands upon thousands of Jews in countries where they found themselves in great peril, from Iran to Ethiopia to Bosnia and elsewhere. I admired and respected him for his selfless integrity, his sharp intelligence, his modesty and, above all, his total dedication to the welfare of the Jewish people. We at the World Jewish Congress owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for restoring calm and instituting transparent governance and fiscal stability at our organization after a succession of unfortunate crises. I will miss his friendship and his always-sage advice. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family. May his memory be for a blessing.” 

A lifelong human rights activist, Schneider was born in 1939 in Paarl, South Africa, and educated in Worcester before moving to Cape Town. Fiercely opposed to Apartheid, he joined the National Liberation Committee (later renamed the African Resistance Movement) in the early 1960s and was extensively involved in its sabotage and other activities. In 1964, he fled from South Africa to England to escape a police dragnet.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies mourns him as “a great Jewish South African who risked his life in the fight for justice in his country of birth and went on to render outstanding service to global Jewry.” In 2011 the WJC honored him with its Nahum Goldmann Service to the Jewish People Award. He will be sorely missed by his many colleagues and friends at the WJC and in communities around the world, whom he inspired over many years of working together and for whom he was a role model. Baruch Dayan Emet.

About the World Jewish Congress

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations.
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