Bar-Yehudah (Idelson), Israel

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BAR-YEHUDAH (Idelson), ISRAEL (1895–1965), Israeli labor leader, born in Konotop, Ukraine. He studied mining engineering and joined the Ẓe'irei Zion movement. After he became secretary of its left wing (Ẓiyyonim Soẓialistim) in 1921, he was arrested by the Soviet authorities and exiled to the Arctic region. Released in 1923, Bar-Yehudah left for Berlin. There he served, with Berl *Locker, as secretary of the World Union of *Po'alei Zion. In 1926, upon settling in Palestine, he became secretary of the Petaḥ Tikvah Workers' Council and was imprisoned for leading a picket group that demanded the introduction of Jewish labor in the local citrus groves. After joining kibbutz *Yagur in 1930, he became a leading member of Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad, mainly as coordinator of its defense committee. As a member of the *Mapai faction, Bar-Yehudah was active in the central institutions of the *Histadrut, the yishuv, and the Zionist organizations. When Mapai split, in 1944, he joined *Aḥdut ha-Avodah and became one of its leaders and later a member of its Knesset faction. During his term as minister of interior (1955–59) the question of "Who is a Jew" according to Israel law became a public issue in connection with identity-card registration. From 1962 until his death Bar-Yehudah served as minister of transport. During 1960–62 he was his party's secretary-general.


D. Lazar, Rashim be-Yisrael, 1 (1953), 107–11.

[Abraham Aharoni]