Schapira, Hermann

(1840–98)
   Lithuanian Zionist and mathematician. Born near Kovno, Lithuania, Schapira had an Orthodox education and became a rabbi and head of a yeshivah in a small Lithuanian town. He then turned to a scientific career in the field of mathematics. After studying in Berlin, he was forced by financial difficulties to return to Russia. When he had saved sufficient money, he returned to his studies and obtained a doctorate in Heidelberg, where he became a member of the faculty.
   From an early age he had been active in the Chovevei Zion movement. He attended the First Zionist Congress in 1897 as a delegate and put forward two far- sighted proposals. The first was to establish a fund, supported by world Jewry, for the buying and development of land for agricultural settlement in Palestine. He proposed that this land should not be sold, but be made available on forty- nine-year leases. Four years later, in 1901, the Jewish National Fund was established by the Zionist Congress on the basis of Schapira’s ideas. He also pressed for an institution of higher learning in Palestine, which would be a centre of both religious and secular studies for the Jewish world as a whole. This was the genesis of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a project later promoted by Chaim WEIZMANN and others, and approved by the congress in 1913.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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