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Bezalel Jaffe

JAFFE, BEZALEL (1868–1925), Zionist leader in Russia and in Ereẓ Israel. The brother of Leib *Jaffe, he was a key figure in the Zionist movement in the area of his native Grodno. He was a member of *Benei Moshe, established a modernized ḥeder in his home town, and was one of the organizers of the "Grodno Courses" for the training of Hebrew teachers (1907). Jaffe took part in the first Zionist Congresses, was active in the organization of the Zionist movement in Lithuania, and in the publication of Zionist literature in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian. In 1909 he went to Ereẓ Israel and, upon the resignation of Meir *Dizengoff, was appointed director of the Geulah company for land purchase. Under his directorship (1910–25), this company was instrumental in extending the area of Tel Aviv and turning it into a city. He was one of the founders of Tel Aviv and a member of the town's first governing committee. Jaffe was also a member of the Va'ad Le'ummi during its early days (1920–25). In 1912 Jaffe introduced the first modern irrigation into Petaḥ Tikvah, utilizing the waters of the Yarkon river. He was one of the few who fought to safeguard achievements of the yishuv during its harassment by the Turkish authorities in World War I. After 1918 he was among the organizers of the yishuv's Provisional Committee and also served as president of the Jaffa-Tel Aviv Jewish community.


Beẓalel Jaffe (Heb., 1960); J. Pogrebinsky, Sefer "Ge'ullah" (1956), 130–52, 236–7; Tidhar, 1 (1947), 269–70.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.