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Wissotzky, Kalonymus Ze'ev

WISSOTZKY, KALONYMUS ZE'EV

WISSOTZKY, KALONYMUS ZE'EV (1824–1904), merchant, philanthropist, and supporter of *Ḥibbat Zion. Born in Zhagare (Kovno province), Wissotzky attended yeshivot and then tried his hand at agriculture. Having failed, he became a businessman and, in 1858, he moved to Moscow, where he established the famous tea firm that bears his name (*Aḥad Ha-Am was at one time manager of its London branch). He became a wealthy man and took an interest in public affairs, especially by subsidizing charitable institutions and causes. Wissotzky was one of the earliest adherents and supporters of the Ḥibbat Zion movement in Russia. In 1885 he visited Ereẓ Israel on behalf of the movement and prepared a survey of the general condition of the yishuv and of the new settlements that was to have a profound effect upon the practical work of Ḥovevei Zion in the country. For the rest of his life, he maintained his philanthropic activities, supporting Hebrew literature in particular. (*Ha-Shilo'ah, the Hebrew monthly, was financed by him in the first years of its existence.) Under Aḥad Ha-Am's influence he donated 20,000 rubles for the publication of a Hebrew encyclopedia for Jewish studies (1894). This project being canceled, the money was given instead to the society of Marbei Haskalah in Russia. According to his will, his entire share in the Wissotzky tea firm (one million rubles) was given to charity, including national Jewish purposes, among them the establishment of the Haifa Technion. In 1898 he published Kevuẓat Mikhtavim ("Collection of Letters"), which contains his impressions of the trip to Ereẓ Israel and various other documents relating to his activities in behalf of Ḥibbat Zion.

bibliography:

M.M. Dolitzky, Mofet la-Rabbim (1892); A. Druyanow, Ketavim le-Toledot Ḥibbat-Ẓivyon ve-Yishuv Ereẓ-Yisrael, 3 vols. (1919–32), indices; M. ben Hillel Hacohen, Olami, 5 (1929), 63–70.

[Getzel Kressel]

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