Israel Pollak 1910-1993 – A man of Vision and Work
Israel Pollak symbolizes exemplary, life-long dedication to the state of Israel. He combined his Zionism with contributions to the country’s economy and society. In appreciation of his numerous activities, he was awarded the Israel Prize in 1990. Israel Pollak worked tirelessly to promote social and cultural activities. He supported many institutions and organizations including the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. In 1986 he established the Industrial Engineering and Management Chair at the Technion. For his contributions to the economy, society and the state of Israel, as well as his continuous support of the Technion, the Technion presented him with an Honorary Fellowship in 1986. In 1993 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate posthumously, as he died before the ceremony, and his wife Rachel received the award in his name. In an interview given 24 hours prior to his death, Israel Pollak expressed his special feeling toward the Technion – “The Technion is an important institution, and probably the most important one among Israel’s institutions of higher education”, he stated.
Born in 1910 in Transylvania, Romania, Israel Pollak established his first textile factory in Romania at the age of 25. After World War II, he emigrated to Chile, where he founded a large textile industry. As a Zionist, he was deeply involved in the activities of Chile’s Jewish community. He served as president of the Commitee of Education and established a Jewish day school, and later on as the head of the Zionist Federation of Chile. He was accorded everything a person could desire – respect and financial success – but he yearned for Israel. The challenge was provided to him by the Israeli Minister of Finance at the time, Mr. Pinchas Sapir. The association between them resulted in the establishment of the “Polgat” factory which Israel Pollak founded in 1961, in Kiriat-Gat. “Polgat” provided work-places for the new immigrants living in the area and became the biggest textile factory in Israel. Founding “Polgat” textile factories in Israel was the fullfilment of Pollak’s Zionist dream.
“Education should be the nation’s first prioroty” was his belief and he strongly supported the institutions of higher education through the Edith and Israel Pollak Fund. Pollak received Honorary Citizenship of Kiriat-Gat for his contribution to the development of the city (1965), the Herzl Prize (1979), the Industry Prize (1977), he participated in the symbolic Torch-lighting of the Menorah on Independence Day in honor of his pioneering activities in Israel (1980), and was presented with Honorary Doctorates from the University of Tel Aviv (1983), the Weizman Institute (1988), and the Hebrew University (1992).
Israel Pollak left behind him a rich heritage of charitable deeds. He made many contributions to the welfare of his fellow men. His vision and concern for others is perpetuated through the many educational and cultural project supported by the Edith and Israel Pollak Fund. His projects are exemplary models for serving and advancing the late Israel Pollak’s Zionist and educational interests. His wife, Rachel Pollack, continues his life’s work.