At the beginning of the century the Hecht family founded the Neptun-Rhenania Concern, operating shipping lines and services along the inland waterways of the Rhine, Main, and Neckar. The family enterprise was Dr. Hecht’s initiation into the world of business and he remained active in this economic center throughout his life.
In 1936, Dr. Hecht immigrated to Palestine, and in 1939 ‘Etzel’ (the Revisionist Movement) sent him to Europe. He opened an Aliya-Beth (illegal immigration to Palestine) offices in Zurich and Paris, represented ‘Ezel’ in a number of countries, and was active also in the world Revisionist organization ‘Zohar’ and the newly founded ‘Hazach’. During and after World War II, Dr. Hecht was involved in numerous rescue operations in Western Europe.
Dr. Hecht returned to Israel immediately after the proclamation of the State. Soon after he proposed to the Provisional Government the idea of building grain silos in the harbors of Israel. He obtained the Government concession in 1950 and established Dagon Batey Mamguroth Le-Israel Ltd. In 1981 he also erected Mamgurorth Ashdod.
Dr. Hecht served as a personal adviser to Prime Minister Menahem Begin
and Yitzhak Shamir, each of whom he accompanied on official missions and
journeys to North America, Europe, and Egypt, where he conveyed and explained
From the time of the establishment of the State of Israel, Dr. Hecht served on numerous official committees dealing with art and culture, such as the Permanent Committee for the Design of the Bank Notes, Coins and Commemorative Medals of the Bank of Israel, State Archaeological Council and Public Council for Culture and art attached to the Israeli Ministry of Education and Culture. Dr. Hecht was a co-founder of the University of Haifa and member of the Board of Governors and the executive committee till his death in 1993. In 1973 he established the ‘Herzl Institute for Research and Study of Zionism’ and in 1974 the ‘Zionist Chair and History in the name of R. Hecht’. In 1981, he established the Reuben and Edith Hecht Museum, to which he lent his private collection. Dr. Hecht received the first Honorary Doctorate conferred by the University of Haifa.
Dr. Hecht was awarded numerous prizes for his economic, social, and cultural activities, among others in 1986 he received the B’nai B’rith International Humanitarianism Award, and perhaps, the most distinguished being the Israel Prize for Exemplary Lifetime Service to the Society and State in 1984.
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