Mauricio Hatchwell Toledano z''l
28/09/2012
​Madrid, Spain
A great leader of Spanish Jewry
1940-2011
 

The first year without D. Mauricio Hatchwell Toledano z''l
 
by Dani Kaplan, KH representative in Spain and Portugal
 
 
Mauricio Toledano Hatchwell z"lWhen we remember someone, we summon up memories and call to mind past events that remind us of him and sometimes to try to emulate him. It is what we call a person’s “legacy'': the sum of his teachings and his life ethic, which lasts long after he has departed.
 
The amazing thing about Mr. Hatchwell’s life is that a year after his untimely death, we are still seeing his legacy materialize - as if he were still with us. And if this is not eternal life, is the closest thing to it a human being can hope to achieve on earth.
Today, September 6, 2012, I witnessed an event that will change the lives of many and that closes a circle that began many years ago. I witnessed the first lesson of the year in the 12th-grade class, at the first Jewish school in modern Spain, which will bear  the name of D. Mauricio Hatchwell Toledano z''l.  As was clearly articulated in their speeches by his widow, Monique, and his son, David, the essence of our entire being, and the future of the Jewish Community of Madrid as well as of Israel, lies in education, and that is Mr. Hatchwell’s legacy.
 
Generations of students will study in these classrooms, which are equipped with the latest technology, sponsored by the family in memory of Mr. Hatchwell, out of love for someone who technically didn't came to the dedication, but was present in every detail.
I knew Mr. Hatchwell.
 
As a new KH representative in Spain and Portugal, a visit to his office was mandatory.... He was standing. I did not even know he was ill and therefore was not aware of the difficulty that this required. Later, in referring to his illness, he mentioned it tersely - as a nuisance that has to be overcome, nothing more. The promised half-hour stretched to two and-a-half hours of stories about Israel and the Jewish community of Madrid, which reflected his respect, love and concern. When at the end of the visit, I told him that the new KH World Chairman, Moodi Sandberg, would visit Madrid in a few days, he immediately invited us to his home.  We spent two hours with him talking about our families and discussing work-related issues. He took leave of us with a strong handshake and a fatherly hug.
 
Unfortunately, I got to see him only once again, during the visit by President of Israel, Shimon Peres. As a personal friend of the President, he was very involved in organizing the visit.  He then moved far away and I never saw him again – something that saddens me deeply to this day, as I considered him a friend, a mentor and a partner in everything pertaining to our people and the State of Israel.
 
I think the words written by Alejandra Abulafia, editorial director of Infomedio, excerpts of which are presented here, in commemoration of his death, summarizes his life and aspects of his work.
 
"D. Mauricio Hatchwell Toledano was born in Casablanca, Morocco. In 1965 he arrived in Madrid, where, in 1971, he founded and chaired the EXCEM group, which now has offices in Spain, France, China and Israel, with a presence in other countries through partnerships with local groups.  Parallel to his professional success was his commitment to the growth of his community. From 1978 to 1981, he served as president of the Jewish community of Madrid. He developed his company, while working to defend his people, to preserve its identity and its roots. He worked towards reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, for harmony and to promote peace in the Middle East.  Consequently, the public honors he has received include the Jerusalem 3000 Award, given by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, and the Prince of Asturias Concord Award in 1990. In 1980, Mr. Hatchwell received the Golda Meir Award for his outstanding contribution to the social and economic development of Israel. He was also a patron of the arts and culture.
 
He helped the most needy, providing funds for humanitarian organizations, foundations, and charitable groups, not only within the Jewish community but also in other religious communities. Mauricio worked for peace and tolerance among all peoples.
 
His business success didn't keep him playing an active role in other activities. He was founder and president of the International Jewish Committee SEFARAD 92. In the framework of this committee, he made possible the visit of HM Juan Carlos I to the Synagogue of the Jewish Community of Madrid on March 31, 1992, accompanied by the then President of Israel Chaim Herzog. This event, on the anniversary of the Decree of Expulsion, marked the onset of deep reconciliation between the Spanish people and Sephardic Jews, not only in Spain but throughout the world.
 
Mauricio was also a supporter of the Codespa Foundation and of the Father Arrupe Foundation, President of the Weizmann Institute in Spain, a member of the Board of the World Sephardi Federation, a member of the Friends of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, a member of the European Friends of the Anti-Defamation League, a member of the Ortega y Gasset Foundation, among many other involvements. From his final resting place in Jerusalem, his flame will continue to illuminate his heritage and his legacy".
 
(Alejandra Abulafia)
 
Yehi zichro baruch. May his memory be blessed.
 
Dani Kaplan
Madrid, September 6, 2012