Shapira, Yeshayahu

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SHAPIRA, YESHAYAHU (1891–1945), ḥasidic Ereẓ Israel pioneer and leader of religious labor Zionism. Shapira was born in Grodzisk, Poland, the youngest son of the ḥasidic rabbi Elimelech of Grodzisk, and was educated by his maternal grandfather in a deeply ḥasidic spirit, which included singing and playing the violin as a form of religious service. His education was also permeated with an ardent love of Ereẓ Israel, so much so that as a youngster Shapira took an extraordinary decision for his environment and joined the Zionist movement. In 1914 he even went to Ereẓ Israel, but hastened back to his family because of the outbreak of World War i. In Poland he participated in the foundation of *Mizrachi (1917), and in his Hebrew address at the founding conference he called on all Orthodox Jews to liquidate their businesses in the Diaspora and settle in Ereẓ Israel. Shapira settled in Palestine in 1920 and became the head of the Immigration and Labor Department of the Mizrachi center in Jerusalem. He organized a group of 120 religious workers to build the Rosh-Pinnah–Tabgha road and another of 50 workers, including himself, to clean Solomon's Pool near Jerusalem. He was one of the founders and leaders of Ha-Po'el ha-Mizrachi, the first group of which was formed in his home in Jerusalem. In 1924 he went to Poland as an emissary and influenced young ḥasidic rabbis, such as Yeḥezkel Taub and Israel Eliezer Hofstein, to settle together with their disciples on the land in Palestine. These groups founded the settlements of Naḥlat Ya'akov and Avodat Yisrael, which later merged into *Kefar Ḥasidim, and some of them founded Kefar Ata.

In 1933 Shapira became the manager of the central cooperative bank Zerubavel in Tel Aviv, but ten years later he decided to return to farming by settling in *Kefar Pines, and his house there became a spiritual center for members of Ha-Po'el ha-Mizrachi. He wrote many essays and articles, particularly on economic problems of settlement and cooperation, and was beloved for his devotion and modesty. He died in Jerusalem.


Tidhar, 3 (1958), 1328–30.