Jacob Pinkerfeld

Jacob Pinkerfeld was born in the city of Przemysl, Galicia, Poland in 1897. His father was an architect. He was brought up on the values of Polish culture, but was soon captivated by Zionist ideas and joined the Shomer Hatzair movement. In 1914 he finished high school in Lvov, and went on to study architecture at the Technical High Institution in Vienna, Austria, but was compelled to drop out when drafted to the Austrian army. Pinkerfeld joined the Shomer Hatzair pioneers who formed the first wave of immigration to Eretz-Israel, arriving in 1920. In Eretz-Israel he participated in the collective effort to reclaim the marshes in the Zichron Ya'acov area, but had to give up his dream of becoming a farmer after he had fallen ill with pneumonia and malaria. He returned to Europe to recover, and decided to continue his studies at the Vienna Technical High Institution, graduating in 1925 as an Engineer-Architect.

That same year he returned to Eretz-Israel and for a short period of time worked in the Mandatory Department of Public Works, subsequently opening an independent office. As an architect, he was particularly drawn to public and rural construction. He planned numerous farmhouses, agricultural training farms, culture halls, nurseries and kindergartens, institutional and kibbutz dining rooms, etc., as well as memorials and gravestones, and even furniture when the occasion arose. He liked clean lines, simple shapes, and Mediterranean elements.

Already as a student, Pinkerfeld was interested in Jewish art. He wanted to write a comprehensive book about the history of Jewish architecture. For many years he compiled material on synagogues and cemeteries in Israel and overseas. He traveled to Italy (1939), Aden (1949), and North Africa (1954) for research purposes. In 1943 he conducted an exhaustive study on synagogues in Eretz-Israel. He wrote many academic essays on the subject as well as articles directed at a wider audience.

After the Establishment of the State of Israel, Pinkerfeld worked in the Department of Antiquities, and devoted much time and energy to preservation of significant sites in the country. He prepared plans for conservation and reconstruction of historical sites, such as Megido, the Monfort, the ancient synagogue of Bar-Am. He participated in numerous excavations (Hamat Gader, Korazim, Meron, Beit Shearim, etc.). In his last years he invested great efforts in preservation of historical buildings, among them Islamic sites.
His dream was to establish a Research Institute for Jewish Art. Together with a group of friends he founded "Ganza", the Society for Jewish Craft, which later became the Museum of Ethnography and Folklore in Tel Aviv, and acted as its Director from 1950 until his untimely death. In 1956, during a tour in Ramat Rachel with participants of the Archaeological Convention organized by the Israel Exploration Society, he was shot and killed from gunshots fired by the Jordanian Legion.
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