LEVONTIN, ZALMAN DAVID

LEVONTIN, ZALMAN DAVID (1856–1940), a pioneer of Jewish settlement and banking in Ereẓ Israel. Born in Orsha, Belorussia, the son of a Chabad Ḥasidic family, Levontin received a religious education and was tutored privately in languages and secular studies, after which he worked as a clerk in a commercial bank in Kremenchug. He was one of the first members of Ḥovevei Zion and established a settlers' association in his town and in Kharkov. The two associations sent him   to Ereẓ Israel to purchase lands, and after a short tour of the country Levontin convened a meeting of the representatives of the settlers' associations from Russia and Romania, as well as local public leaders. This conference established the Va'ad Ḥalutzei Yesud ha-Ma'alah, which decided to found a settlement by the name of rishon le-zion . In 1882 Levontin, with the assistance of his wealthy uncle, Ẓevi Levontin, purchased 3,340 dunams (835 acres) and founded Rishon le-Zion there; he later served as head of the settlement's first committee. In 1883, lack of funds forced Levontin to sell his land to baron edmond de rothschild and return to his family in Russia, where he served as branch bank manager in various towns in the pale of settlement . Levontin joined the Zionist Movement upon its establishment and, in 1901, was summoned by herzl to become one of the directors of the jewish colonial trust in London. In 1903 he went to Ereẓ Israel to establish a bank under British auspices, to be known as the Anglo-Palestine Company (see Bank Leumi le-Israel in israel , Banking and Commerce). Under his directorship this bank became the central financial and credit institution in the new yishuv and engaged in banking activities with the Turkish authorities and the Arabs. When World War I broke out, Levontin went to London and Paris to mobilize funds in order to over-come the economic crisis that had beset the yishuv. When he was about to return, Turkey joined the war against Britain and France, and Levontin remained in Alexandria, where he opened a temporary branch of the Anglo-Palestine Company which extended aid to refugees and exiles from Palestine. He participated in the negotiations with the British authorities leading to the establishment of the Zion Mule Corps, commanded by joseph trumpeldor . In the spring of 1918, Levontin returned to Palestine and continued his banking work; six years later he retired from the bank's board of directors. He published his memoirs, Le-Ereẓ Avoteinu (vol. 1, 1884, revised edition, 1963; vol. 2, 1925; vol. 3, 1928), in which he advocated the employment of capitalist methods of agricultural settlement and criticized the settlement methods of the Zionist Organization, particularly those of the labor movement. jehiel levontin was his brother. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y. Ya'ari Poleskin, Z.D. Levontin (Heb., 1932); D. Idelovitz, Sefer Rishon le-Ẓiyyon (1941), index; Terumah la-Kohen… (Z.D. Levontin) (1926); Y. Ḥurgin, Z.D. Levontin (Heb., 1943); Tidhar, 2 (1947), 813–5; Kressel, Leksikon, 2 (1967), 159–60. (Yehuda Slutsky)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Levontin, Zalman David — (1856–1940)    Eretz Israel pioneer. Levontin was an early Chovevei Zion (‘Lover of Zion’) and in 1882 settled in Palestine, where he was head of the group that founded the Rishon le Zion settlement. In 1901 HERZL made him director of the Jewish… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Levontin, Zalman David — (1856 1940)    Russian banker and pioneer of Jewish settlement in Palestine. He was born in Belorussia. In 1882 he went to Palestine, where he purchased land and founded the town of Rishon le Zion in the Judean coastal plain. He subsequently… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Zalman David Levontin — (vor 1901) Zalman David Levontin (auch: Salman Lewontin etc.; * 1856 in Orscha, Mogilew, Weißrussland; † 19. Juni 1940 in Tel Aviv) war russisch jüdischer Zionist und Finanzexperte, zuvor Mitglied der Ch …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Levontin — Zalman David Levontin (auch: Salman Lewontin; * 1856 in Orscha, Mogilew, Weißrussland; † 19. Juni 1940 in Tel Aviv) war russisch jüdischer Zionist und Finanzexperte, zuvor Mitglied der Chowewe Zion und 1882 einer der Gründer von Rischon le Zion.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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