Levin, Yiẓḥak Meir

views updated


LEVIN, YIẒḤAK MEIR (1894–1971), leader of the *Agudat Israel movement. Born in Gora, Poland, Levin came from a ḥasidic family: his maternal grandfather was the Gerer Rabbi, R. Judah Aryeh Leib Alter (Sefat Emet), and his father-in-law was the Gerer Rabbi, R. Abraham Mordecai Alter. He was active in Agudat Israel when it was formed in Poland after World War i. Agudat Israel in Poland was dominated by the Gerer Ḥasidim, and Levin quickly rose to its leadership. In 1924 he represented his movement on the Warsaw Community Council, and at the Second Great Assembly of Agudat Israel (Vienna, 1929) he was elected to the World Presidium. In 1935 he visited Palestine at the head of a delegation of the Agudat Israel Center in Poland and reorganized the executive there. At the Third Great Assembly (Marienbad, 1937), he was chosen as one of the two deputy presidents of the World Actions Committee.

Levin managed to escape from Poland at the beginning of World War ii and in 1940 reached Palestine, where he was active in rescue operations from Nazi-dominated Europe. When the Central Committee of Agudat Israel met in Marienbad (1947), he was put in charge of the Ereẓ Israel branch of the movement. Levin was elected to the First *Knesset and was minister of social welfare in the first Israel government. He served in this capacity until 1952, when he resigned during the controversy over some form of national service for women. At the Fourth Great Assembly (Jerusalem, 1954), he was elected president of the World Actions Committee and chairman of the World Executive of Agudat Israel.


Tidhar, 4 (1950), 1804–05.

[Menachem Friedman]