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Sir Ellis Kadoorie CBE (1865–1922) was a Jewish Hong Kong-born entrepreneur and philanthropist. He was a member of the wealthy Baghdadian Kadoorie family that had large business interests in the Far East. His brother was Sir Elly Kadoorie, and his nephew was Lawrence Kadoorie. His family were originally Iraqi Jews from Baghdad who later migrated to Bombay, India in the mid-eighteenth century.
Ellis Kadoorie arrived in Shanghai from Bombay in 1880 as an employee of the Iraqi Jewish firm David Sassoon & Sons. Within a few years he had accumulated large sums of money and had gone into business on his own account, with companies in both Shanghai and Hong Kong. Over the next two decades, the Kadoorie brothers made their fortunes, achieving success in banking, rubber plantations, electric power utilities and real estate, and gaining a major share-holding in Hong Kong Hotels Limited.
Sir Ellis was knighted in 1917.
Sir Ellis died and was buried in Hong Kong on 24 February 1922. He is buried in the Jewish Cemetery.
According to his testament, he left £100,000 for the development of education in Palestine. There was great rejoicing in the Zionist Organization; naturally, everyone assumed the money was intended for Jewish education. Herbert Samuel set up a committee to plan how the money would be spent. Only some time later was Kadoorie's will read carefully, and then it turned out that the beneficiary was not specifically the British administration in Palestine but the British government in London and Kadoorie had granted it the choice of whether to invest in Palestine or Iraq. There was no indication in his will that the money was intended to be used for Hebrew education. In the ensuing commotion, Weizmann managed at least to obtain a decision that the sum be invested in Palestine. Eventually it was decided to build two separate agricultural schools in Palestine – The Kadoorie Agricultural High School which was built in the Lower Galilee for the Jewish population, and another agricultural school was built in Tulkarm for the Arabs.
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