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Israelis You Should Know: Simcha Blass

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Name: Simcha Blass

Life: November 27, 1897 - July 18, 1982

Known for: Simcha Blass was an engineer and inventor who was the main developer of irrigation in Israel.

About him: Born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Warsaw, Poland, Simcha Blass fought in self-defense units at the end of World War I in order to protect his country's Jewish people from harm. Simcha's engineering studies were interrupted when he was conscripted into the Polish army. In the army, however, he put his skills to use by inventing a meteorological device that measured wind intensity and direction. After the war, Simcha invented another device. This time it was a machine for planting wheat - an invention he created in hopes that it would help Zionist settlers in the Holy Land. Simcha's Zionist aspirations would fuel many of his inventions to come, as well.

Simcha then moved to British-mandate Palestine, where he was the area's leading water engineer from 1930-1948. In the early 1930s, an accidental discovery would spur his greatest development. An Israeli farmer brought to Simcha's attention a massive tree that was growing on his property, seemingly without any water. Upon further investigation, Simcha discovered that a small leak was creating a small wet spot that allowed the tree's great growth. This in turn led to Simcha's development of drip irrigation, which allowed the Holy Land to blossom and grow.

In 1946, Simcha planned the first water pipeline to the Negev Desert. And when the state of Israel officially gained its independence, he was the founder and director of the new government's water institutions. Thanks to the lifelong devotion and ingenuity of Simcha Blass, Israel has continued to thrive and grow, an oasis in an often unfriendly environment.

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