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'Zionism Is Above Everything'

Yitzhak Gruenbaum with PM and Mrs. Ben-Gurion and Danny Kaye (Photo: Moshe Pridan/GPO)

Yitzhak Gruenbaum

Lived: November 24, 1879 - September 7, 1970

Why you should know him: An important leader of the Zionist movement, Gruenbaum helped form Israel's early government and served as the Jewish state's first Interior Minister.

Born to a Jewish family in Warsaw, Poland, Gruenbaum first studied law before becoming involved in the Zionist movement. Because of this, he began focusing on journalism and edited several Hebrew and Zionist periodicals.

Gruenbaum also became involved in politics because of his advocacy for the Jewish people. He represented Poland's Jewish minority in the period between the World Wars, supporting Zionism and known for his courageous and militant stances.

With the rise of fascism in Europe, Gruenbaum first moved to Paris before making aliyah (immigrating to the Holy Land) in 1933. While living in then-British-mandate Palestine during the Holocaust, Gruenbaum continued to help European Jews, staying in contact with the Polish Jewish community and helping with their rescue from the Nazis. After the war, Gruenbaum's son, a Holocaust survivor, also made aliyah and was killed fighting for Israel's independence in 1948.

Once Israel won her independence, Gruenbaum helped form the nation's provisional government and served as Israel's first Interior Minister.

Gruenbaum retired from politics and before his death in 1970 returned to editing books on Judaism and Zionism, the movement he had worked for his entire life and about which he said, "Zionism is above everything."

Tags: Israelis You Should Know

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