Ossowetzky, O. Yehoshua

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OSSOWETZKY, O. YEHOSHUA (1858–1929), senior official in Baron Edmond de *Rothschild's administration in Ereẓ Israel. Born in Kiev, in 1883 Ossowetzky was appointed chief administrator in *Rishon le-Zion by Baron de Rothschild. There he induced the farmers to plant vines and doubled the settlement's land area. The "free" farmers not subsidized by the Baron clashed with Ossowetzky; their leaders were forced to leave Rishon le-Zion after the "free" farmers' revolt, while Ossowetzky was replaced by an even harsher official. In 1887 he bought 7,000 dunams (1,750 acres) of land in Kastina (later *Be'er Toviyyah), and two years later he was appointed chief official of the Baron de Rothschild in Galilee and moved to *Rosh Pinnah. There he gained great influence in Turkish circles with the aid of bribes and gifts. He used to ride in a carriage, preceded by armed Jewish horsemen. Ossowetzky extended the area of Rosh Pinnah and tried to base its economy on plantations and the silk industry. He also established three settlements of *Metullah on land he had purchased. In the 1890s Ossowetzky purchased large tracts of land in the Golan and other areas east of the Jordan River and also began purchasing land in Lower Galilee (*Sejera). When the management of the settlements was handed over to the *Jewish Colonization Association (ica) in 1900, Ossowetzky left the country and lived in Paris until his death.


M. Smilansky, Mishpaḥat ha-Adamah, 2 (1944), 120–5; Tidhar, 3 (1949), 1318–9.

[Yehuda Slutsky]