The History

The Concise History
(Excerpt from Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol.10)

Keren Hayesod (Palestine Foundation Fund), the financial arm of the World Zionist Organisation, founded at the Zionist conference held in London in July 1920. Two basic views were expressed on the problem of how the World Zionist Organization should finance its work in Palestine after the important political gains made at the end of World War I. One group favoured the establishment of a company run on banking lines to promote undertakings solely on a business basis. The other emphasised the need to preserve the pioneering character of the Zionist effort by mobilising national capital through donations from the Jewish masses. There was also a proposal, which won little support, to float a national loan. The conference adopted a compromise combining the first and second proposals. The Keren Hayesod was to appeal to Zionists and non-Zionists alike for funds to finance on a nonprofit basis immigration and colonization in Palestine in order to lay the foundations of the Jewish National Home, as well as to encourage business enterprise in close cooperation with private capital. Contributions were to constitute an annual voluntary tax with a certain minimum level. 1950's poster

Keren Hayesod was registered on March 23, 1921, as a British limited company. Its members (limited to no more than 50) together with the chairman of the board of directors were chosen by the executive of the Zionist organisation. Those that were amongst the founders of Keren Hayesod included Chaim Weizmann, Aharon, and Isaac Naidich. The first directors were Barth Berthold Feiwel (also managing director), Georg Halpern, Vladimir Jabotinsky (also director of propaganda). Shelomoh Kaplansky, Shemaryahu Levin, Issac Naidich, Israel M. Sieff (later Lord Sieff) and Hillel Zlatapolsky. When the head office of Keren Hayesod was moved to Jerusalem in 1926, the managing directors were Arthur Hantke and Leib Jaffe (who was killed on March 11, 1948 by a bomb explosion in the Jewish Agency courtyard).

On the map The head office of Keren Hayesod was in London until 1926 when it moved to Jerusalem. When the enlarged Jewish Agency for Palestine was founded in 1929, with equal representation for non-Zionist, Keren Hayesod continued to be the main instrument for financing the Zionist budget. From 1925, the fund operating in the United States as the United Palestine Appeal (which was a partnership of Keren Hayesod and the Jewish National Fund) which combined in 1939 with the American Jewish Joint Distribution committee and the National Refugee Service to from the United Jewish Appeal. The UJA operates in the United States while the Keren Hayesod head office in Jerusalem coordinates operations through 90 Campaigns in 50 countries. In 1956 was incorporated in Israel under Keren Hayesod Law adopted by the Knesset.

The Chairman of Keren Hayesod is responsible for its operations in all countries except the United States. There are departments for Latin America, the English speaking countries and Europe, as well as for special projects in Israel, wills and legacies, information, reception of guests, administration and finance.

Contribute - the order Funds collected through the Keren Hayesod United Israel Appeal (the second half of the name was adopted in 1948 to cover united operations of primary Zionist funds) have helped establish and develop over 820 villages and towns in Israel since 1921, and to help finance such important enterprises as the General Mortgage Bank; Israel Land Development Corporation; Mekorot Water Company; Rassco (Rural and Suburban Settlement Company); Solel Boneh (the Histadrut's building and contracting company the Palestine (Israel) Electric Corporation; the Palestine Potash world (Dead Sea Works); the Anglo Palestine Bank (now Bank Leumi); Amidar Housing Cooperation; Zim Navigation Company and many others.

For more information on the history of Keren Hayesod

  1. Keren Hayesod, Memorandum and Articles of Association (1921)
  2. Constitution and Palestine Work (1922)
  3. Jewish Fund (1921)
  4. Keren Hayesod Book (1921)
  5. Reports to the Zionist Congresses (1921-)
  6. A Decade of Freedom (1958)
  7. I. Klinov, Will and Fulfillment: Keren Hayesod Twenty Five Years Old (1946)
  8. A. Ulitzur, Foundations: A Survey of 25 Years of Activity of the Palestine Foundation Fund Keren Hayesod (1947)
  9. M. M. Berman, The Bridge to Life: A Saga of Keren Hayesod 1920-1970 (1971)
  10. A Commitment to Excellence - 70 Years of Keren Hayesod (1990)