Jaffe, Leib

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JAFFE, LEIB (1876–1948), Russian Zionist leader, writer, and poet. Born in Grodno, a grandson of R. Mordecai-Gimpel *Jaffe, he participated in the First Zionist Congress and in those following it and was one of the foremost Zionist propagandists in speeches, discussions, articles, and poems in both Russian and Yiddish. Jaffe was a member of the *Democratic Fraction of the Zionist movement and among the opponents of the *Uganda Scheme. At the *Helsingfors Conference, 1906, he was elected to the Zionist central committee in Russia. For a time he edited the Zionist periodicals in Russia, Dos Yidishe Folk and Haolam, in which he published articles on current and Zionist affairs. At the Eighth Zionist Congress (1907), Jaffe was elected to the Zionist General Council and he directed the regional Zionist committee for the five provinces of Lithuania. During World War i he was active on behalf of the Jewish Society for the Help of War Refugees (yekopo).

In 1915 Jaffe was called to Moscow to edit the monthly of the Zionist Organization, Yevreyskaya Zhizn. During the brief period of the February Revolution in Russia, he was at the center of Zionist propagandist and administrative work. With the consolidation of the Soviet regime, Jaffe returned to Lithuania, where he was elected president of the Zionist Organization and edited its newspaper, Letste Nayes (later Di Yidishe Tsaytung). In 1920 he went to Ereẓ Israel, where he was elected to the Va'ad ha-Ẓirim (Zionist Commission). He was an editor of the newspaper Haaretz (1920–21) and editor in chief 1921–22. In 1923 Jaffe joined the *Keren Hayesod and in 1926, together with A. *Hantke, became its co-director. Until his death he traveled widely in all countries of the Diaspora on public relations missions and established contacts with intellectual circles. He was killed on March 11, 1948, when a mine planted by an Arab terrorist exploded in the courtyard of the *Jewish Agency compound.

Jaffe's literary work was devoted to the renascence of the Jewish people and to the love of Ereẓ Israel. He published three collections of Jewish-Zionist literature in Russian and also two Russian anthologies of Hebrew poetry (together with the poet V. *Khodasevich, and with a foreword by M. *Gershenson), and a selection of world poetry on Jewish-national subjects. His own poetry found its best expression in Russian. In 1892 his first poem appeared in the Russian Jewish Voskhod. His first collection of poems, Gryadushchee ("The Future") appeared in Grodno in 1902 and also contains translations of Hebrew poetry. His second collection Ogni na vysotakh ("Fires on the Heights," 1936), appeared in Riga. Jaffe also wrote poems in Yiddish (collected in Heymats Klangen, 1925) and in Hebrew. A selection of his articles appeared in Tekufot (1948). His son Benjamin (d. 1986) edited Ketavim, Iggerot ve-Yomanim (1964), and Bi-Sheliḥut Am (1968; letters and documents 1892–1948). Jaffe edited Sefer ha-Congress (the book of the First Zionist Congress, 1923).


Kressel, Leksikon, 2 (1967), 98–99; lnyl, 4 (1961), 289–91.

[Yehuda Slutsky and

Melech Ravitch]