Yosef Sprinzak

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Yosef Sprinzak
Yosef Sprinzak.jpg
Date of birth 8 December 1885
Place of birth Moscow, Russian Empire
Year of aliyah 1910
Date of death 28 January 1959(1959-01-28) (aged 73)
Place of death Jerusalem, Israel
Knessets 1, 2, 3
Faction represented in Knesset
1949–1959 Mapai
Other roles
1949–1959 Speaker of the Knesset
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, Chairman of the National Committee, addresses the Zionist General Council Meeting in Jerusalem. From right to left: I. Rupaisen, Ben-Zion Mossinson, H. Farbstein, Nahum Sokolow, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, Yosef Sprinzak, I. L. Goldberg, Shmaryahu Levin, Eliezer Kaplan (1935)
L-R: W. G. Hall, Moshe Rosetti, Yosef Sprinzak, Alexander Knox Helm, Leslie Hore-Belisha, and Moshe Sharett in the Knesset, 1951

Yosef Sprinzak (Hebrew: יוסף שפרינצק‎; 8 December 1885 – 28 January 1959) was a leading Zionist activist in the first half of the 20th century, an Israeli politician, and the first Speaker of the Knesset, a role he held from 1949 until his death in 1959.

Sprinzak was born in Moscow, Russia but following the expulsion of Jews in 1891 moved with his family to Kishinev where he was a founder of the Tze'irei Zion (Zion Youth). He began medical school at the American University in Beirut in 1908 and settled in Palestine in 1910, during the Second Aliyah (1904–1914).

Along with Eliezer Kaplan Sprinzak headed Hapoel Hatzair ("The Young Worker") a Zionist socialist faction formed in 1905 and one of the organisations that consolidated to form Mapai in 1930. Its members were pro-British and supported Chaim Weizmann.[1] He was a founder of the Histadrut in 1920 and acted as secretary general of the organisation from 1945 to 1949.

Sprinzak was elected to the position of speaker of the provisional parliament on 15 July 1948,[2] a role in which he helped lay the foundations of Israel's parliamentarism.[3] He was elected to the first Knesset in 1949 as a member of Mapai, and became the Speaker of the new body. He was re-elected and remained speaker in both the second and third Knessets.

As part of his role as speaker, Sprinzak became acting President of Israel when Chaim Weizmann fell ill from 12 December 1951. After Weizmann's death on 9 November 1952 Sprinzak served as interim President until inauguration of Yitzhak Ben-Zvi on 10 December 1952.

His son Yair Sprinzak also served in the Knesset. Another son, Aharon David Sprinzak, an Israeli Air Force pilot, was killed in action during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. His grandson, Ehud Sprinzak (1940-2002) was one of Israel's foremost experts on counterterrorism and far-right Jewish groups.[4]


  1. ^ Sofer, 2003, pp. xi; xii; 99.
  2. ^ Goldberg, 2003, p. 32.
  3. ^ Sofer, 1998, p. 115.
  4. ^ "Ehud Sprinzak, 62; Studied Israel Far Right". The New York Times. 12 November 2002. 


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