Hertzel Katz, aged 81, from Ramat Hasharon/Herzlia, was born in Benoni and attended school where the motto emblazoned on the badge was “We Consider Others”. This he internalized and it became his passion and philosophy.
At the age of 13 he joined the Betar Movement, were he learnt the ideology of Jabotinsky – that even as a slave a Jew is a prince and the concept of Hadar. He received a JNF scholarship to visit Israel in 1953 and was elected as Natsiv Betar in 1953. He sat on the Executives of the Revisionist Party and the S.A. Zionist Federation.
He was an anti- Apartheid activist. He was an active member of the Progressive Party and was it’s candidate for the Provincial Council in 1963.
He completed his BA and LLB degrees at Wits University and was admitted to the Johannesburg Bar in 1957.
He was a delegate to the World Zionist Conference in 1968 where Prime Minister Golda Meir called on all Zionists to come to Israel. In 1969 he decided to make Aliya with his wife and two children.
Hertzel continued to be active in the South African Zionist Federation, Telfed. In the year 1970 he was appointed to the managing committee of Telfed and convened committees on Aliya and absorption. He acted as the Chairman of Telfed for two terms during 1986-1996.
In 1982 he established the Telfed Fund a friendly society and trust fund for self- help whose goal was to assist needy Olim from South Africa and arranged for the fund to be designated as a public institution for tax purposes. He even organized campaigns to raise funds for the Friendly Society, initiated the creation of the Telfed magazine and edited the first issues, he launched a program to award prizes to Telfed’s volunteers. Herzl convened the first reaction committee to hostile publications against Israel in the world media. He initiated the publication of a book about the “South Africa’s Contribution to Israel” . He assisted in the publication of a book –“South Africa’s -800” – the story of the volunteers from South Africa who participated in the War of Independence.
The South African Embassy awarded him a commendation for “outstanding services” in the furtherance of trade between Israel and South Africa. He received a prize for being a distinguished friend of the Assaf Harofe hospital after forming a chapter of friends in South Africa.
Hertzel initiated and managed the convening of “Koach Kan” , the first convention in Israel of English speakers whose agenda was quality of life. He was elected to the Board of Directors of the friendly societies ”Ämi”, an organization whose aim is to improve the quality of life in Israel. He formed the the “Israel –South Africa Chamber of commerce”, was elected as its first Chairman, and till this day he is a member of its Management committee. He initiated the formation of a Council of English Speaking Organizations. He assisted in the establishment of a branch of the “Hebrew Order of David Lodge” in Israel. He established the friendly society “the Friends of the Bat- Dor Dance group” and served as its first chairman, and the full list of his activities is very lengthy.
Hertzel devoted his whole life to make Israel a better place, a place that accepts others with a humanitarian attitude to the other person and for the state.