Ex-Bank of Israel governor Moshe Sanbar dies at 86

Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor made aliya in 1948, led BoI through Yom Kippur War.

October 3, 2012 01:37
2 minute read.
Moshe Sanbar

Moshe Sanbar 390. (photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Moshe Sanbar, the Bank of Israel’s second governor and an influential economist, died in Tel Aviv Monday night at age 86.

The Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor made aliya in 1948, just months before Israel’s establishment, and was wounded in the War of Independence.

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He graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a Masters Degree in Economics, Statistics and Sociology in 1953.

He began his employment at the Treasury in 1958, working his way up the ranks to become head of the budgets department and adviser to finance ministers Levi Eshkol and Pinhas Sapir. In 1968 he was appointed chairman of the Industrial Development Bank, while simultaneously keeping his position as adviser to Sapir. In 1970-71 he effectively carried out the duties of the industry and trade minister.

Sanbar served as Bank of Israel governor from 1971- 76, guiding the economy through a tough period that included the Yom Kippur War. He was the BoI’s second governor; the first, David Horowitz, served for 17 years from the central bank’s founding in August 1954.

After his tenure as central bank chief, Sanbar remained involved in business through many different roles, including chairman of Bank Leumi and subsidiaries from 1995-98, and president of the Israeli branch of the International Chamber of Commerce from 1992-2003. He served as chairman of Habima Theater from 1969-82, and as chairman of the board of trustees of the College of Management Academic Studies (COMAS) from 1972-1995.

Sanbar was one of the most prominent representatives of Holocaust survivors.

He served as chairman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel from 1987-2003, and as treasurer and chairman of the governing council of the Claims Conference.

In 2004 he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the Central European country. In 2011 he was made an honorary member of the European Institute for Legacy of the Holocaust, a title bestowed on only six people.

President Shimon Peres, writing in a tribute compiled by COMAS in 2003, called Sanbar “an exceptional man of theory and a reliable man of action.”

“As an economist he never desisted from intellectual curiosity: neither in the field of politics nor in the arts; neither in literature nor in science,” Peres said.

“One can learn many things from him. I too learned. But it was possible to trust his judgment completely. I did this. I benefited. Not just as a person, but as a representative of the state.”

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