Wednesday, 21 February 2018


YOSEF SAPIR (April 12, 1869-March 3, 1935)
            He was born in Odessa, southern Russia.  He studied in a public high school and in the Universities of Vienna and Montpellier.  In high school he became a “Ḥovev tsiyon” (Lover of Zion).  In Vienna he belonged to a student group “Kadima” (Onwards).  He was also a member of the Odessa committee of the “lovers of Zion.”  He contributed to Smolenskin’s Hashaḥar (The dawn), and he published in Odessa a religious work entitled Torat haḥaim (The law of life) and stood close to Bialik and Tshernikhovski.  In Odessa he founded “Di kopike biblyotek” (The one-kopek library) which brought out dozens of pamphlets on national and Zionist issues.  He participated in Zionist congresses and was a member of the great Zionist action committee.  At the sixth congress he was at the head of the Odessan “nine speakers” (against the Uganda project).  In Vilna in 1903, he published in Russian the book Sionizm, nauchno-populiarnoe izlozhenie sushchnosti i istorii sionistichestego dvizheniia (Zionism, popular scientific account of the essence and history of the Zionist movement), 198 pp.  It was the recipient of a prize from the Moscow patron Velikovski and appeared in Hebrew and Yiddish translations as well.  He published in Odessa, where he practiced medicine, the Russian Jewish periodicals Evreiskaia misl’ (Jewish thought) and Kadima.  Over the years 1918-1921, at the time of the Ukrainian pogroms against the Jews, he was among the leaders of the relief committee for the Jewish victims.  He moved to Kishinev with the goal of making aliya from there to the land of Israel, but he became secretary there for the Jewish National Fund and revived the Zionist Library.  In 1925 he departed for Israel.  He published articles in Haarets (The land) and Hatsiyoni hakelali (The general Zionist), and he published a book, entitled Ḥalutse hateḥiya (Pioneers of the revival), on Zionist personalities.  He died in Jerusalem.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Hadoar (New York) (March 15, 1935); D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 3 (Tel Aviv, 1949), pp. 1239-40.
Yankev Kahan

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