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October 01, 1982 - Image 70

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-10-01

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10 Friday, October 1, 1982

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Hermann Schapira

By LAURIE EDELMAN

World Zionist Press Service

JERUSALEM — "His
silver hair hung shaggily
over his high forehead, his
lean, harsh, ascetic face was
aflame with an inner light,
his large eyes agleam with a
consuming power," poet
Leib Jaffe wrote, describing
Prof. Hermann Schapira,
the founder of the Jewish
National Fund, at the first
Zionist Congress in 1897.
Despite his somewhat ec-
centric appearance, Schap-
ira was among the most dis-
tinguished delegates at the
Basle convention. When he
spoke, which was seldom,
his words carried almost as
much weight as those of
Theodor Herzl.
At one particularly divi-
sive point in the proceed-
ings, Schapira arose to de-
liver an impassioned plea
for unity:
"Let each man raise his
hand and repeat after me,
'If I forget thee, 0 Jerusa-
lem, may my right hand
forget its cunning.' "

The other delegates im-
mediately complied, re-
citing the ancient oath in
what was later described
as "one of the most sol-
emn moments of the Con-
gress."
Schapira's first Zionist
Congress was also his last;
he died at the age of 58 in
1898. But in that brief ap-
pearance, he laid the found-
ation for one of the most im-
portant entities within the
Zionist movement: the JNF,
Jewish National Fund (Ke-
ren Kayemet LeYisrael).
First formulated in 1884
at the Kattowitz Conference
of the Hovevei Zion (a
forerunner to Herzl's
Zionist movement), Schap-
ira's proposal called for a
massive fund-raising effort
to secure land for the Jewish
people.
"Let us suppose," he
argued, "that our
forefathers had placed any
sum of money, however
small, in trust for the bene-
fit of future generations. We
should now be able to ac-

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Visionary of the JNF

As one of the few Jews on
the faculty, Schapira found
himself in an isolated posi-
tion — all the more so, be-
cause he was unwilling to
assimilate. Schapira never
abandoned traditional
Judaism. According to
Zionist leader and historian
Nahum Sokolow, "he re-
mained in appearance, in
manners and in mentality
as typical and picturesque a
member of his people as any
old rabbi."
Yet Schapira was also
very much a product of the
HERMANN SCHAPIRA
Enlightenment. "He was an
excellent Hebrew scholar,
quire eminent tracts of and well-versed not only in
land. And what our ances- ancient Jewish history and
tors failed to do, that is in- literature, but also in mod-
cumbent upon us to do for ern Hebrew literature,"
ourselves and for those who Sokolow continued. "His
will come after us."
heart and soul were in the
Putting his idea into Lovers of Zion movement
practice, Schapira went and in the Hebrew revival."
to a local tinsmith, ac-
In addition to his JNF
cording to his biog- proposal, Schapira was one
raphers, and ordered the of the firstto envision a He-
famous JNF "blue box." brew university in Pales-
Each day thereafter, tine. Such a university, he
Schapira deposited a wrote, would bring forth
German pfennig into the "Torah, wisdom and moral-
box, which was to be- ity for the entire house of
come a major symbol of Israel," and he volunteered
the JNF.
his services as a math-
The JNF was not offi- ematics professor whenever
cially established until the the university should be es-
fifth Zionist Congress in tablished.
1901. Schapira's vision,
Schapira was also one
however, was what guided of the first to foresee a
the organization in its cen- Zionist role for American
tral aim: land purchased in Jewry. "We do not wish
Palestine was to be the to settle Eretz Israel im-
property of the entire mediately with all the
Jewish people; land, once Jews that are now scat-
purchased, could not be tered throughout the
sold; and the land would be world," he wrote. "I, per-
acquired through funds sonally, am not worried
raised throughout the about those masses who
entire Jewish world, under in the dark days of de-
the auspices of a world spair fled to the free land
Zionist organization.
of America and who pre-
Like many other Zionist fer this land to the land of
luminaries, Schapira was a our forefathers. (Yet)
person of wide intellectual how fortunate would it be
abilities. Born to a religious that the foundation stone
family in the Lithuanian for our national home-
town of Erswilken, he be- land should be laid not by
came known as an ilui — a those who are oppressed
prodigy in Judaic studies. and forced to flee, but
By the age of eight, Schap- rather by those who have
ira was said to be the equal" the freedom of choice . . ."
of any Talmud scholar in his
Like many other early
town, and by his mid-teens Zionist leaders, Hermann
he had become a rabbi and Schapira did not live to see
rosh yeshiva.
the state of Israel. He died
At the age of 22, Schapira while on a speaking tour in
turned to more secular ac- Cologne in 1898. In 1953,
tivities. Mathematics was his remains were brought to
his passion, though he Mount Herzl in Jerusalem
lacked the money to study — a lovely, tranquil place
full-time. Over the course of surrounded by the JNF
nearly two decades, Schap- Jerusalem Forest.
It seems a fitting resting
ira worked as a clerk, book-
keeper, watchmaker and place for a visionary whose
military supplier until he ideas were only to be
amassed money for univer- brought to life years after
his death yet are now an in-
sity studies.
Completing his docto- divisible part of the Israeli
rate at the age of 40, he landscape.
was appointed several
A stern discipline per-
years later to the position
of professor of higher vades all nature, which is a
mathematics at Heidel- little cruel that it may be
berg University in Ger- very kind.
—Spenser
many.

Dr. Dagobert Runes Dies

NEW YORK — Dr.
Dagobert D. Runes, founder
and editor-in-chief of the
Philosophical Library, died
Sept. 24 at age 80.
Established in 1941, the
Philosophical Library pub-
lished reference books in
the fields of history, philos-

ophy, science, sociology,
business and religion.
Born
in
Austria-
Hungary, Dr. Runes emi-
grated to the U.S. in 1926.
He also was the editor of
The Modern Thinker and
editor of Current Digest.
From 1931 to 1934, he was
the director of the Institute
D. Hirschfield
for Advanced Education in
Donald E. Hirschfield, a New York City.
Among the books he
realtor and a former man-
ufacturer's representative authored or edited were: the
and furniture executive, Dictionary of Philosophy,
the Spinoza Dictionary, the
died Sept. 25 at age 70.
A native Detroiter, Mr. Handbook of Reason and
Hirschfield was a realtor for the Pictorial History of
the past 10 years. He began Philosphy. Books he
the only Michigan mended authored on Judaism in-
hearts club for persons who clude: Dictionary of
Judaism, "Letters to My
had heart surgery.
He was a member of Tem- God," "Lost Legends of Is-
ple Beth El, the Knights of rael" and "The Disinherited
Pythias, Sigma Alpha Mu and the Law."
Fraternity and the Furni-
ture Club of Detroit. Mr. William Yaker
Hirschfield was a former
William Yaker, former
member of Tam-O-Shanter owner of the Cinema Res-
Country Club.
taurant on Lafayette Blvd.
He leaves his wife, Lil- in Detroit, died Sept. 26 at
lian; two daughters Mrs. age 73.
William (Susan) Engelman
A native Detroiter, Mr.
and Mrs. Myron (Gail) Yaker resided in Los
Homer of Woodland Hills, Angeles, Calif., at the time
Calif.; and six of his death. While in De-
grandchildren.
troit he also was in the
scrap metal business.
Sarah Gold
He was a benefactor of
Sarah K. Gold, a member the Chesed Shel Emes
of Jewish cultural organiza- Cemetery here. Mr. Yaker
tions, died Sept. 24 at age was the vice president of
the former Oakman
94.
Born in Romania, Mrs. Synagogue. He also held
Gold was a member of the membership at Cong. Bnai
International Ladies .Gar- Moshe when it was located
ment Workers Union; on Dexter Blvd.
Mr. Yaker is survived
YKUF, a Yiddish cultural
group, of which she was a by his wife, Adele; two
founder; Pioneer Women; sons, Jerry and Larry,
Sinai Hospital Guild and both of Los Angeles; two
the Detroit Jewish Folk daughters, Lois Strom and
Sheila Bixby, both of Los
Chorus.
She leaves two sons, Dr. Angeles; a brother, Hymie
Frank M. Gold of Hastings, of El Paso, Tex.; a sister,
N.Y.; and George Mussaf; Minnie 'Bignaan of South-
three daughters, Mrs. Ann field; and four grandchil-
Herwald, Mrs. Robert (Syl- dren. Interment Granada
via) Zell of Long Boat Key, Hills, Calif.
Fla., and Mrs. Stanley
(Madalyn) Rosen; .12 Americans Buy
grandchildren and six
Israeli Products
great-grandchildren.
TEL AVIV (JNI) — The
Interment Cleveland.
political climate has had
Mrs. Zechman
little impact on the
Dorothy S. Zechman, a American shopper's deci-
member of Jewish and sion to buy Israeli prod-
communal organizations, ucts, according to a mar-
ket research report com-
died Sept. 23 at age 74.
A native Detroiter, Mrs. missioned by the Israel
Zechman was a member of Trade Center in New
Cong. Shaarey Zedek, York.
Nine out of every 10
Knollwood Country Club
and was the past president surveyed shoppers were
aware of at least one
of the Denver League.
She leaves four daugh- product manufactured in
ters, Mrs. Harold (Suzanne) Israel, and over half could
Abel of Hollywood, Fla., list four or more items.
The reasons given for
Mrs. Arthur (Joan) Koppy,
Mrs. Stanley (Betty) Wolfe buying Israeli products,
of Pembroke Pines, Fla., which- were rated "above
and Mrs. Gerald (Deana) average in quality, yet
Benaderet; two brothers, competitively-priced," were
Samuel Schwartz and Bar- Israeli products met their
ney J. Schwartz; 11 needs better, personal
grandchildren and five preference, higher quality
and, finally, "curiosity."
great-grandchildren.

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