Bodenheimer, Max Isidor

views updated


BODENHEIMER, MAX ISIDOR (1865–1940), one of *Herzl's first assistants, a founder of the World Zionist Organization, and one of the first directors of the *Jewish National Fund. Bodenheimer was born in Stuttgart and began to practice law in Cologne in 1890. Despite an assimilationist education, he joined the *Ḥibbat Zion movement in his youth. In 1891 he published a pamphlet, Wohin mit den russischen Juden? in which he suggested settling Russian Jews in Ereẓ Israel. In 1893 he and David *Wolffsohn founded in Cologne a Ḥibbat Zion society which was the nucleus of the future Zionist Federation in Germany. When Herzl announced his Zionist plans, Bodenheimer joined him immediately. At the First Zionist Congress in 1897 he presented the organizational program of the Zionist movement, and was a member of the committee which prepared the text of the *Basle Program. From 1897 to 1921 and from 1931 to 1933 Bodenheimer was a member of the Zionist General Council. In 1898 he was a member of the Zionist delegation which accompanied Herzl to Ereẓ Israel for an audience with Kaiser William II on his visit there. Bodenheimer put the statutes of the Jewish National Fund into final form and served as its director from 1907 to 1914. The land on which Kinneret, Deganyah, and Merḥavyah were built was among that acquired during his administration; and assistance was also given for urban and rural settlement, including a loan to help found Tel Aviv. During World War i Bodenheimer together with Franz *Oppenheimer and Adolph *Friedemann founded the Va'ad le-Ma'an ha-Mizraḥ ("Committee for the East"), which aimed at serving as a liaison between East European Jewry and the German occupation authorities. He joined the *Revisionist Movement (1931–34) but left when it seceded from the World Zionist Organization. In 1935 Bodenheimer settled in Jerusalem. He published many pamphlets and articles on Zionist matters, and wrote a drama on the life of Jesus (1933). His memoirs appeared posthumously in Hebrew (1952), German (1958), and in English under the title Prelude to Israel (1963). His daughter, Hannah, published his correspondence with Hermann Shapira, Toledot Tokhnit Basel ("The History of the Basle Program," 1947), and that between him and Herzl in Hebrew and German, under the title Be-Reshit ha-Tenu'ah ("At the Beginning of the Movement," 1965). A selection of his writings, Bi-Mesillat Rishonim, was published in 1951.


T. Herzl, Complete Diaries, ed. by R. Patai, 5 vols. (1960), index; S. Ben-Horin, Ḥamishim Shenot Ẓiyyonut, Max Bodenheimer (1946); H. Bodenheimer, Herzl Yearbook, 6 (1964–65), 153–81; R. Lichtheim, Die Geschichte des deutschen Zionismus (1954), index.

[Alexander Bein]