Elio Moti Sonnenfeld, also known as Elio Sonnenfeld, is a modern businessman with an illustrious heritage steeped in tradition. Reaching back three generations, Elio Moti Sonnenfeld’s great grandfather was one of the great rabbis of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Jerusalem, before the establishment of the State of Israel.
Born in Vrbové, (Slovakia), Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld arrived in Palestine as a young man with one of his teachers, Rabbi Avraham Shag. As Rabbi Sonnenfeld’s great piety and devotion to learning progressed he became well-known among the residents of Palestine, and eventually he became the chief rabbi of Jerusalem. He was constantly pursuing peace and reconciliation, not only with his fellow Jews, but also with the increasingly hostile Arab population.
Soon after the Arab riots of 1929, which left many Jews dead or seriously injured, Rabbi Sonnenfeld wrote a heartfelt letter to the Arab residents of Mandatory Palestine. He urged the Arabs to understand that the Jewish community’s most treasured value is peace. He tried to reassure the Arab population that Jews had no secret plan to take over the Temple Mount, or any other Arab property. Rabbi Sonnenfeld is also famous for playing a key role in the establishment of the Diskin Orphanage in Jerusalem.
The orphanage was founded in 1880 by Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin and taken over by his son, Rabbi Yitzchak Yerucham Diskin when Rabbi Yehoshua Leib passed away in 1898. Rabbi Sonnenfeld, who was a student of the older Rabbi Diskin, partnered with the younger Rabbi Diskin to create a welcoming and warm institution for the orphans and other children whose parents could no longer care for them.
Rabbi Sonnenfeld dedicated over 50 years of his life to this important project. With such a renowned heritage and ancestry as a foundation, it is no wonder that Elio Moti Sonnenfeld has been able to practice kindness and generosity through his own worthy endeavors.