June 14, 2024

Frank Sinatra was a strong supporter and activist for Jewish causes in the United States and Israel. He participated in Hollywood protests and productions supporting Jews during the Holocaust and the formation of the State of Israel. He actively fund-raised for Israel Bonds, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center and helped establish two intercultural centers in Israel which bear his name.

Sinatra supported the establishment of the State of Israel and believed that Zionism was a righteous cause. In September 1947, Sinatra performed at a rally in the Hollywood Bowl that drew 20,000 supporters for creation of the State of Israel.

Sinatra visited Israel for the first time in 1962 where he gave seven concerts in six cities as part of his multinational World Tour for Children, which raised over $1 million for children’s charities around the globe. His visit coincided with the country’s annual Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) celebrations. Sinatra sang at the official Independence Day event in Tel Aviv and was seated beside Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and General Moshe Dayan on the reviewing stand during the Israel Defense Forces parade. He also performed for troops at the Tel Nof Airbase and delivered a speech in Jerusalem “urging people all over the world to support Israel”. A 30-minute short film, “Sinatra in Israel”, was later released with highlights of the visit.

Frank Sinatra was a significant and frequent fundraiser for Jewish causes. In the wake of the Six-Day War in June 1967, he and other Hollywood entertainers pledged a total of $2.5 million to Israel at a cocktail party hosted by Jack L. Warner; Sinatra personally contributed $25,000. In 1972 Sinatra raised $6.5 million in bond pledges for Israel, and in 1975 announced he was personally giving $250,000 to Israel Bonds “in memory of my parents’ neighbor, Mrs. Golden, in Hoboken”. He also raised significant money for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as well, including a 1976 Hollywood fundraiser that raised $1 million toward the construction of a student center on the university’s Mount Scopus campus.

Sinatra met Simon Wiesenthal for the first time in 1979, telling the Nazi hunter that “he had been his hero for many years”. When he found out that the Simon Wiesenthal Center was trying to produce the documentary Genocide, Sinatra told them, “Although I’m not Jewish, the Holocaust is important to me“, and offered $100,000 to fund the project. In ensuing months, Sinatra made four appearances on behalf of the Center, bringing in $400,000 in funding for the film, which won the 1981 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Be like Frank Sinatra and Be an Israel Advocate. To learn more about FJMC’s Israel Advocacy visit https://www.fjmc.org/content/israel-advocacy.

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