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SCHAPIRA, HERMANN (1840-1898).

Mathematician and Zionist. Born in Russia, he taught mathematics at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, where he founded the first Zionist society in Germany. He is best remembered as the originator of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet le-Israel), based on a plan for the purchase of land in Palestine for Jews through small donations from the Jewish masses. He presented this proposal again at the first Zionist Congress in 1897, but it was not adopted until the 5th Congress in 1901, three years after Schapira’s death. Another of his proposals that was made at the first Congress was adopted at the 11th in 1913, the last congress before World War I began; it was then decided to proceed immediately with the creation of a Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The poet Chaim Bialik reminded the delegates that this vision of a new house of learning in Zion came from the mind of the mathematician Hermann Schapira.

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