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Va'ad Leumi Definition

Va'ad Leumi - (Hebrew) The national committee. The governing body of the Jewish community in mandatory Palestine, chosen by the elected assembly (Aseifat Nivharim). The Va'ad Leumi was founded in 1920 with the foundation of Knesset Yisrael (the electorate of Jews that recognized Zionist leadership) and the Aseifat Nivharim. Several attempts had been made previously to form a governing body, beginning in 1903. These were always stymied by ideological and other divisions.Zionists split in 1903 over the plan to make Uganda a temporary Zionist homeland and orthodox factions did not want to allow women the right to vote.

The successful formation of the Vaad Leumi became possible after the British conquest of Palestine and the return of Zionist leaders from exile abroad.

The Vaad Leumi comprised representatives of the major factions in the Aseifat Nivharim. A smaller group was chosen as the Executive, because the Vaad Leumi comprised 20-40 members, too large for much practical work. The Va'ad Leumi met at least once a year. Its members also participated in meetings of the Zionist General Council. The first chairman of the Vaad Leumi was Rabbi Kook. Its presidents and chairmen were:

1920-1929 David Yellin (Chairman), Yaakov Tahon, Izhak Ben Tzvi
1929-1931 Pinhas Rutenberg, David Yellin (Char until 1929, replaced by Izhak Ben Tzvi)
1939-1944 Pinhas Rutenberg, Izhak Ben Tzvi (Chairman)
1944-1948 David Remez, Izhak Ben Tzvi (Chairman)

Originally granted an informal letter of recognition by British High Commissioner Lord David Samuel, the Vaad Leumi got limited formal recognition in 1928 from Lord Plumer, who also granted it a small budget. In the 1930s, as the Yishuv (Jewish community) grew, the Va'ad Leumi took on more functions - education, health care and welfare services - and its budget was enlarged. In 1935 Agudat Yisrael, one of the non-Zionist ultraorthodox factions, joined the Vaad Leumi, making that body representative of virtually the entire Jewsih Yishuv in Palestine. It became the foundation of the state in the making.

The departments of the Va'ad Leumi included:

Political Department - dealt with relations with the Arabs, ties with the Jewish Agency and negotiations with the British government;

Education Department

Health Department

Communities Department

Rabbinate - The Vaad Leumi and the national assembly were formally organized under the mandatory religious communities law, and therefore had responsibility for the chief rabbinate.

Social Welfare Department

The Va'ad Leumi was also involved in internal defense and security matters, and organized recruitment to the British forces during World War II.

In practice, many of the departments of the Vaad Haleumi were closely associated with the Zionist organization, the Histadrut and the Jewish Agency.

In the 1940s, additional departments for physical training, culture and press and information were added.

The success of the Jews in forming a self governing authority was a factor in the decision of the Anglo-American Committee of inquiry (1946) to recommend the formation of a Jewish state. Their report noted:

"The Jews have developed, under the aegis of the Jewish Agency and the Vaad Leumi, a strong and tightly-woven community. There thus exists a virtual Jewish nonterritorial State with its own executive and legislative organs.

(Report of the Anglo American Committee of Inquiry)

The Vaad Leumi met on May 14, 1948 and approved the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel, turning itself into the provisional government of the state of Israel, and the departments of the Vaad Leumi became the basis of some of the ministries of the new state.

Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information:

Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.

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