Farbstein, David Ẓevi

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FARBSTEIN, DAVID ẒEVI (1868–1953), Zionist Swiss politician. Farbstein was born in Warsaw and grew up in a traditional family. He worked at a bank in Warsaw to finance his studies, distancing himself from his Orthodox upbringing. During his studies in Berlin (1892–94) he joined the Russian Jewish Scientific Association and met with N. *Syrkin. He continued his studies at the universities of Zurich and Berne (1894–97), graduating with a thesis on "the legal status of the free and unfree worker in talmudic law." In 1897 he received Swiss citizenship, became a member of the Cultusgemeinde and joined the Social Democratic Party. He protested against the expulsion of Russian-Jewish peddlers from Zurich (1905/06) and led the opposition in the Cultusgemeinde against the well-to-do Swiss-Jewish establishment. As a lawyer, he defended women who had had abortions. In 1902 he was elected to the cantonal parliament, after 1904 to the city parliament. Here he fought against the introduction of a 15-year waiting period for Orthodox East European Jews to apply for Swiss citizenship, but he did not convince the bourgeois majority (1920). He was the first Jewish member of the Swiss parliament (the Nationalrat," 1922–38). As a Zionist, he helped *Herzl set up the First Zionist Congress in Basle and drafted the statutes of the *Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet le-Israel). Already in 1897 he founded the first Zionist group in Zurich. After 1933 he fought Swiss fascism and opposed the policies of the leaders of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities as too compromising. He was instrumental in the resignation of Saly Mayer from the presidency of the federation in 1943. He refuted the anti-Jewish allegations of Zurich pastor Walter Hoch.


H. Strauss-Zweig, David Farbstein. Juedischer Sozialistsozialistischer Jude (2002); Davar (June 22, 1953); Festschriftzum 50-jaehrigen Bestehen des Schweizerischen Israelitischen Gemeindebundes (1954), 197ff. (his autobiography).

[Uri Kaufmann (2nd ed.)]