Barzilai (Eisenstadt), Yehoshua

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BARZILAI (Eisenstadt), YEHOSHUA (1855–1918), leader of the Ḥibbat Zion movement and writer. Barzilai was born in Kletsk, Minsk region, Belorussia, to a rabbinical family, and from an early age became active in the Ḥibbat Zion movement. He first visited Ereẓ Israel in 1887, but a year later returned to Russia, where he became one of the founders of the clandestine *Benei Moshe, which was led by *Aḥad Ha-Am and became a center of modern spiritual and national thought. He was elected deputy member of the Odessa Ḥovevei Zion Committee, which was then the central body for activities on behalf of the new settlements in Ereẓ Israel.

Barzilai returned to Ereẓ Israel in 1890 and was appointed secretary of the Executive Committee of Ḥovevei Zion in Jaffa. He was instrumental in the founding of several educational and community institutions, wrote numerous articles and reports on life in the Yishuv in various Hebrew papers in Russia, and from 1893 to 1895 edited, jointly with Yehudah Grasovski (*Goor) Mikhtavim me-Ereẓ Yisrael (Letters from Ereẓ Israel), a bulletin on the life and problems of the Jewish community in Ereẓ Israel. He was also active on behalf of the settlers in their disputes with the administration of Baron Rothschild.

Barzilai joined the Zionist movement and participated in the Minsk Conference of Russian Zionists (1902). He was among the opponents of the Uganda Plan. From 1904, he was an official of the Anglo-Palestine Bank in Jerusalem and was one of the founders of the Hebrew Gymnasium in Jerusalem, the first modern high school in Ereẓ Israel, and the Beit Ha-Am community center of Jerusalem. At the beginning of World War i he returned to Europe, and after a long illness died in Lausanne, Switzerland. His remains were reinterred in 1933 on the Mount of Olives. A collection of his writings was published in 1912.


Tidhar, i, 150–1; M. Smilansky, Mishpaḥat ha-Adamah, ii, 60–65; Rabbi Binyamin, Keneset Ḥakhamim (1961), 271–7

[Benjamin Jaffe]