August 12, 1944

Berl Katznelson, a leader in the Labor Zionist movement died suddenly of a hemorrhage at the age of 57 in Jerusalem.

Katznelson had been born in 1887 in Belorussia. At a relatively young age, he became involved in the Zionist Socialist movement and took a job teaching Hebrew literature and Jewish history at a school for poor girls in his town of Bobiruisk.

Desiring to go to Eretz Israel, Katznelson decided to learn a trade and began working as a foundry worker and in 1909 he made aliyah. Settling in Israel, he became disillusioned with the poverty and dependence of Jewish workers and developed an idea of a group of small land holders working in a cooperative fashion which would eventually become the moshav movement.

In 1919, he composed a program for working class unity in the Land of Israel called Ahdut Avodah (Labor Unity) which advocated for the creation of a labor based society in Israel. This program and philosophy would eventually form the basis of the Mapai party which was created in 1930 and would dominate Israeli politics until the 1970′s.

He was one of the founders of the Histadrut Labor Federation, the Sick Fund and the labor newspaper “Davar” for which he served as Editor-in-Chief.

August 12, 2017