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SCHIFF, JACOB HENRY (1847-1920).

Financier and philanthropist. Schiff came to the U.S. from Germany, where his family had lived since the 14th century. He received his early business training in his father’s Frankfurt brokerage house. In 1885, he became head of Kuhn, Loeb, and Co., which had a significant share in financing the expansion of railroads in the U.S. Deeply hostile to Tsarist Russia for mistreating its Jews, he consistently refused to help that country obtain loans, foregoing opportunities for great profit. He was one of the founders of the American Jewish Committee in 1906 and a leader in its successful effort in 1911 to have the U.S.-Russia commercial treaty abrogated because Russia discriminated against holders of U.S. passports. The range of his philanthropies, Jewish and nonsectarian, was immense. A Reform Jew, he retained much of the traditional piety he had learned in his childhood, and generously supported the religious, educational, and scholarly work of all branches of Judaism. He was opposed to Zionism insofar as it was nationalist and secularist, but he felt that Palestine was needed as a refuge and as a spiritual and cultural center. Schiff supported educational institutions in Palestine, donating $100,000 toward the founding of the Technion (the Haifa Institute of Technology).

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