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In Gratitude: Pierre Haas

2016 Yakir Keren Hayesod Award recipient

Paris, France

The Jewish community of France is a wonderful, outstanding and unusual community with a visceral connection to Israel,” says Pierre Haas. While this is true, he neglects to mention that for a community to realize its potential, it needs strong and courageous leaders – like him.

Born in Paris to parents of German origin, who arrived in France in the early 30s and spent World War II hidden by righteous Gentiles, he received a traditional upbringing in a home immersed in Jewish values. His, father Theo, long-time president of Maccabi France and Maccabi Europe, paved the way for his Zionist engagement.

Pierre personally discovered Israel on a visit with a youth group at the age of 15, and returned for various Maccabiah competitions. He still remembers his mother’s tear-stained face in June 1967, when the Six Day War broke out and Israel was fighting for its very survival. It affected him profoundly.

Pierre, along with a few friends, first became involved in the AUJF – then a partnership between Keren Hayesod and the French Jewish community – in 1973, when an Emergency Campaign for Israel was launched at the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. He had just finished business school and was embarking on a career, and was unable to devote the time to the AUJF that he would have liked. But, six years later he returned to the campaign, and played a leading role in it until the dissolution of the partnership in 2013. He became one of the “leading lights” of Keren Hayesod France, because, in his words, “when one catches the Keren Hayesod bug, there is no cure”.

Pierre Haas definitely caught this “bug” during the great number of missions to Israel in which he participated or led over the years. He will never forget the mission he came on during the First Lebanon War (1982) and his visit to Nabatieh and to the ruins of the Beaufort Castle, in South Lebanon, together with his late friend Victor Nahmias – then a journalist and later Director of Communications at Keren Hayesod. Pierre picked up a beautiful gold pen he found lying on the ground, and showed it to Victor. The latter grabbed it, and hurled it away – just two seconds before it exploded…

He experienced another deeply emotional moment on a solidarity mission during Operation Cast Lead in 2009. As head of the mission, he was assigned a room on the seventh floor of the hotel, while the other participants were on the first. He found himself alone on the stairwell during a night alarm triggered by the launch of a Palestinian missile. The shrieking sirens made him realize just how lonely he felt, and gave him a deep insight into the daily fears of the Israelis living on the Gaza border.

Between these two missions, in 1999, Pierre responded to the call by Avi Pazner, then World Chairman of Keren Hayesod, to assume the presidency of the French campaign. He was responsible to David de Rothschild, with whom he still maintains a professional and friendship relationship. Five years of hard work and constant activity followed, with new needs created by the Second Intifada (2000-2003. ( A master communicator, Pierre gave the campaign new public visibility.

He has remained deeply involved in everything related to the KH campaign in France and the community in general. One of his gifts as a major donor, made in honor of his 60th birthday, was an exceptionally generous contribution to a prestigious educational project in Jerusalem.

Pierre believes that “every Jew holds his fate in his hands. He has to bring his stone to the building and contribute to bettering the future of the Jewish people, whether in Israel or in the Diaspora”.

This man of action doesn’t expect gratitude: “When you believe in something, you have to act. There are so many Jewish men and women who do extraordinary things that it is almost indecent to receive a prize just for supporting a cause in which you believe. In any case, the volunteer receives much more than he gives, but I am accepting this award in order to inspire the younger generation and motivate them to follow suit”.

As another demonstration of his clear thinking, Pierre places transmission of values to the next generation among the top priorities for every Jewish leader. In this too, he serves as a model: one of his sons made aliyah and lives in Israel; the other is already an ardent and committed Keren Hayesod activist in France.

For his vision, his extraordinary leadership and his unwavering dedication, Pierre Haas is a worthy recipient of the Yakir Keren Hayesod Award.

The worldwide Keren Hayesod family wishes to thank Pierre for his generosity, vision and dedication. May you enjoy many more years of good health and happiness with all your loved ones, along with continued activity on behalf of Keren Hayesod, Israel and the Jewish people!

For his vision, his extraordinary leadership and his unwavering dedication, Pierre Haas is a worthy recipient of the Yakir Keren Hayesod Award.

Pierre Haas

Pierre Haas with the Yakir Award, as KH World leaders show their appreciation for his outstanding achievements. From left to right: KH-UIA World Chairman, Eliezer (Moodi) Sandberg; KH-UIA World Board of Trustees Chairman, David KoschitzkyPierre Haas; KH France President Dr. Richard Prasquier and KH-UIA Director-General, Greg Masel.


Pierre Haas

Pierre Haas addresses the audience.