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David-Zvi Pinkas

1895 - 1952.

Source : National Photo Collection of Israel.

David Zvi Pinkas was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence (out of 37 signers), and the third Minister of Transport of the State of Israel.


Born in Hungary, he grew up in Vienna, where he received a traditional Jewish education. He studied in a Yeshiva, and then Law at the University of Vienna.


In his youth, he got involved in Zionist activities, through the Mizrahi* Youth movement in Austria. He was later a Mizrahi delegate during the 13th Zionist Congress, and also president of the Jewish Students Association in Vienna. When World War 1 occurred, he stopped his studies to work with his father in a bank he had purchased.


In 1925, he made Aliyah with his family and was appointed manager of the Mizrahi Bank in Tel Aviv, which he led until he was elected chairman of the bank's board of directors in 1949, a position he held until his death. The same year he was elected chairman of the board of the Great Synagogue in Tel-Aviv and served as the first chairman of the religious council of the city.


In 1932 he was elected to the Tel Aviv City Council on behalf of the Mizrachi Organization and headed the education department in the city for 18 years. From 1950 to 1951, he served as Deputy Mayor, and from 1951 to 1952, he served as Minister of Transport.


In those days, due to budgetary issues, it was agreed that each vehicle would not be used for two days. As Minister of Transportation, David-Zvi obtained a majority in the government for the first shutdown day to be on Shabbat, along with another shutdown day that vehicle owners could choose. This action provoked claims of religious coercion against Pinkas (Religious coercion means to enforce a religious duty on an individual or a group - in Hebrew, Kfia Datit).


In June 1952, he survived an assassination attempt, which is considered the first political assassination attempt in Israel. Ben Gurion refused to discuss this assassination attempt in the Knesset and didn't consider this topic.


Two months later, in August 1952, David-Zvi Pinkas died of a heart attack.


*The Mizrahi Movement is a religious zionist organization created in 1902 in Vilnius, which later in the 20th century impacted the young Hebrew State, by founding the Ministry of Religious Affairs and pushing for laws enforcing Kashrut and the observance of Shabbat in the workplace. Before the creation of the state of Israel, the organization developed a network of religious schools that still exist today. Mizrahi is an acronym for the words "Merkaz Ruhani" (Spiritual Center).


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