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Pineles, Samuel

(1843–1928), Zionist leader. Samuel Pineles was born in Brody, Galicia; his father was the Hebrew writer Hirsh Mendel Pineles (1806–1870). After graduating from high school in 1860, Pineles moved to Galați, joining his family and working at a business. In 1864 he became secretary of the local committee of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, a position he held until 1900. Hoping the organization would support the emancipation of Romanian Jews, he welcomed its diplomatic success at the Congress of Berlin (1878), but was disappointed when decisions failed to be implemented.

In the autumn of 1881, Pineles founded the colonization society Yishuv Erets Yisra’el in Galați, whose purpose was to promote emigration and agricultural settlement in Palestine. At a local committee conference (held in Focşani, 30 December 1881–1 January 1882), he was elected secretary general of the central committee headquartered in Galați. As the dominant personality of the movement, Pineles chose the official name for the Central Committee for Facilitating the Emigration of Israelites from Romania, organized a delegation to Palestine in March 1882 to purchase land for agricultural colonization, and prepared for the departure of the ship Thetis to transport emigrants from Galați to Beirut in August of that year.

The lack of funds required for consolidating the Zamarin colony in Palestine forced Pineles to propose that this area be turned over to Baron Edmond de Rothschild. In 1892, Pineles started another organization with a similar ideology, following the Ḥoveve Tsiyon model of Russia and Austria, as a Ḥoveve Tsiyon branch of Romania. At its third conference, in Brăila on 14–15 April 1897, Pineles declared his wish to join Theodor Herzl, with whom he had that year begun a correspondence.

Pineles participated in the First Zionist Congress (as well as the next nine congresses), accepted the principles of the Basel program, and was elected to be one of three vice presidents and a member of the action committee. Upon his return to Romania, he served as president of that country’s Federation of Zionists.

At the Sixth Zionist Congress (1903), Pineles supported Herzl’s proposal for the Uganda plan. Pineles also was a founder of the Jewish Colonial Bank (1898) and a member of its verification commission until 1914. In 1905, he resigned as president of the Federation of Zionists from Romania, but became its honorary president. After the Balfour Declaration, he supported Chaim Weizmann’s position.

Pineles also was a journalist who wrote for newspapers in German, Yiddish, Hebrew, English, and Romanian. In 1927 he published fragments of his memoirs in the Romanian newspaper Opinia Sionistă (The Zionist Opinion). He was initially buried in Galați, but then was reburied in Jerusalem in 1965.

Suggested Reading

Eliezer Ilan, Din trecutul sionismului în România (Jaffa, Isr., 1968), pp. 14–43; Israel Klausner, Ḥibat Tsiyon be-Romanyah (Jerusalem, 1958); Moshe Schaerf, Ha-Avukah hudlekah be-Romanyah: Shemu’el Pineles ve-reshit ha-tsiyonut be-Romanyah (Jerusalem, 1986).



Translated from Romanian by Anca Mircea