Yosef Shapira, Founder of World Bnei Akiva, Dies

Shapira, who was also an Israeli minister, died at age 87.

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Former minister Yosef Shapira, one of the founders of World Bnei Akiva, died Saturday at age 87. He was treated at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv.

Shapira, who was never elected to the Knesset, served as a minister without portfolio in the national unity government led by Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir between 1984 and 1988, as a member of the Modern-Orthodox Morasha faction.

He was previously a member of the National Religious Party, which today is Habayit Hayehudi, and later founded the Religious Zionist camp, which split off from the NRP.

Prior to serving as a minister, Shapira was the head of the youth and aliyah department at the Jewish Agency for Israel and was also one of the founders of World Bnei Akiva, which he headed for 20 years.

He also was the founder of the Na’aleh program, which helps Jewish children from the countries of the former Soviet Union immigrate to Israel.

Teens take part in a Bnei Akiva event in Latrun, March 2013.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum