Moshe Schnitzer, one of the founding fathers of the Israeli Diamond Industry, past Chairman of the Israel Diamond Institute, Honorary President of the Israel Diamond Exchange and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, passed away last night at the age of 86.
He is survived by his three children, Hanna Gertler, Etty Yovel and Shmuel Schnitzerand their families. His wife Varda, passed away in 2002. His son Shmuel also served as President of the Israel Diamond Exchange and of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses. The family diamond firm he established, M. Schnitzer & Co., continues to be an important member of the Israel Diamond Exchange.
Moshe Schnitzer was born in Chernowitz, Romania in 1921 and immigrated to Israel in 1934. He studied history and philosophy at HebrewUniversity in Jerusalem. In 1942 he began his career in the diamond industry as a diamond sawer and advanced within the industry. Together with a partner he opened Schnitzer-Greenstein in 1952 and opened his own firm, M. Schnitzer & Co. in 1980 together with his son and son-in-law, which became one of the leading firms in the industry. In 1947 Moshe Schnitzer was one of the founding members of the fledgling Israel Diamond Exchange, and became one of the leading proponents of the expansion and development of the exchange, which is now the largest in the world.
From 1967 to 1993 Schnitzer served as President of the Israel Diamond Exchange, during which time polished diamond exports rose from $200 million to $3.4 billion a year. Schnitzer served as President of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses from 1968 – 1972 and again from 1978 – 1982. He was voted lifelong Honorary President of the WFDB in 1982, and lifelong Honorary President of the Israel Diamond Exchange in 1994.
Moshe Schnitzer received the Order of King Leopold of Belgium for his contribution to the international diamond industry, and to the development of ties between the two leading world diamond centers – Israel and Belgium. Schnitzer also received an honorary doctorate from Bar-IlanUniversity.
Schnitzer was responsible for establishing the HarryOppenheimerDiamondMuseum in Ramat Gan and served as its Chairman until July 2003. The municipality of Ramat Gan named the plaza adjacent to the diamond exchange MosheSchnitzerPlaza, and the campus of the diamond exchange was named the IsraelDiamondCenter in Honor of Moshe Schnitzer in 2002. He was also made an Honored Citizen by the municipality of Tel Aviv.
In 2004 Moshe Schnitzer was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for “his life’s work which has made a special contribution to the State of Israel and Israeli society. The official announcement of the prize stated:“Moshe Schnitzer is identified more than anyone else with the Israel diamond industry, and his vision and personality have contributed greatly to Israel’s stature in the world… For the past 60 years, Schnitzer has been the highest-ranking ambassador of the diamond industry.”
Moshe Schnitzer’s funeral was held on Friday August 17, 2007. The funeral began at the Israel Diamond Exchange compound, where he was eulogized by former Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Mayor of Ramat Gan Zvi Bar, Israel Diamond Exchange President Avi Paz, Israel Diamond Institute Chairman Moti Ganz, past Vice President of the Diamond Exchange Bumi Traub, his daughter Hanna Gertler and son Shmuel Schnitzer. He was buried in the Nahalat Itzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv.
To view the photo gallery commemorating Moshe Schnitzer, click here.