BERMAN, SIMEON (1818–1884), precursor of Jewish agricultural settlement in Ereẓ Israel. Berman, who was born in Cracow, founded a Jewish agricultural settlement society there in 1851. He immigrated to the United States in 1852 and settled in New York. There and in other cities he attempted to found societies for agricultural settlement, but received no support. In 1870 he went to Ereẓ Israel and proposed that Mikveh Israel land be set aside for an agricultural settlement, but his proposal was rejected. Berman sent a request, through the U.S. consul, to the Ottoman government asking to be allowed to buy land in Ereẓ Israel. The request was granted, and Berman moved to Tiberias, where he founded the cooperative Holy Land Settlement Society. He received messages of encouragement from rabbis Ẓevi Hirsch *Kalischer and Elijah *Guttmacher, who also promised funds. A parcel of land on the shores of Lake Kinneret was chosen for settlement, and Berman went abroad to propagate the scheme. His Yiddish book Masot Shimon, published in 1879, relates his experiences in Ereẓ Israel. In 1882 Berman returned to Tiberias where he died. Toward the end of his life he witnessed the establishment of the first settlements in Judea and Galilee. Their founders, as the early settlers David Schub and Moshe *Smilansky testify in their memoirs, had been influenced by his book.
A. Yaari, Masot Ereẓ Yisrael (1946), 593–610, 780; e Ẓd, 1 (1958), 420–8 (includes bibliography); Hadoar, May 16, 1958.