Barnett, Zerah

views updated


BARNETT, ZERAH (1843–1935), pioneer of the modern Ereẓ Israel settlement and one of the founders of Petaḥ Tikvah. Barnett, who was born in Tytuvênai, Lithuania, settled in London in 1864 as a fur manufacturer and trader. There he organized communal life for the East European immigrants who remained outside the Anglo-Jewish community. After acquiring British nationality in 1871, he went to Ereẓ Israel for the first time and helped establish the Me'ah She'arim quarter outside the walls of Old Jerusalem. Having spent all his savings, Barnett returned to London to earn money and then went back to Ereẓ Israel – a process which he repeated 15 times. Wherever he went, he advocated Jewish settlement in Ereẓ Israel. In 1878 Barnett joined the group that established Petaḥ Tikvah. As London Ḥovevei Zion delegate to the *Katowice Conference (1884), he described the experiences and hardships of the new settlers from first-hand knowledge. Early in the 1890s Barnett settled in Jaffa, where, in order to improve living conditions, he built the Neveh Shalom quarter, and moved there with his family. He helped build the Sha'arei Torah school, introducing Hebrew as the language of instruction. He also founded the Or Zore'aḥ Yeshivah in Jaffa. Barnett published his memoirs, Zikhronot, in 1929. He died in Jaffa and was buried in Jerusalem.


H. Trager, Pioneers in Palestine (1923); A. Yaari, Goodly Heritage (1958), 80, 89–93; Y. Churgin (ed.), Sifriyyat Rishonim, 1 no. 9 (1943); G. Kressel, Em ha-Moshavot Petaḥ Tikvah (1953), 56f.

[Getzel Kressel /

Yehuda Slutsky]