Belgrade (Mar. 28)
Dr. David Alkalay, one of the leading figures in Jugo-Slavian Jewry, celebrated to-day his 70th. birthday. Messages of congratulation have poured in on him from Jews and non-Jews all over the country, and his admirers have commemorated the occasion by inscribing his name in the Golden Book of the Jewish National Fund.
Dr. Alkalay was born in Belgrade. He studied in Vienna and Tuebingen, and took up law. He was the first Jewish advocate in Serbia, with a doctorate degree. He was for 17 years at the head of the Sephardic Community in Belgrade, which he re-organised and adapted to modern conditions. He founded many of the principal Jewish welfare institutions, and it was owing to him that the new Sephardic Synagogue in Belgrade was erected, which was opened by the late King Peter the Great.
Dr. Alkalay has been a prominent figure in the Zionist movement since its foundation. He was a member of the Jewish Student Union “Kadimah” in Vienna, which was the first Jewish group to accept the ideas which Dr. Herzl laid down in his “Jewish State”. He was one of Dr. Herzl’s collaborators, he attended the First Zionist Congress in Basle, and was a member of the first Actions Committee. Dr. Herzl immortalised him as “Herr Aladino” in his “Old-New Land”. He was also one of the founders of the Jewish Colonial Trust, and he organised the first Maccabiade in Serbia. Since 1924, Dr. Alkalay has been President of the Jugo-Slavian Zionist Federation. It was on his initiative that the movement was started in 1930 for planting the King peter Forest in Palestine.
Dr. Alkalay plays also a very distinguished part in the general political and cultural life of Belgrade. He has been decorated with the Order of the Jugo-Slavian Crown, and has received many other distinctions.
The Alkalays are an old Sephardic family, who left Spain at the time of the Expulsion in 1492 and came to Belgrade by way of Salonica and Sarejevo. A famous member of the family was Rabbi Judah Ben Solomon Hai Alkalay, who died in 1878 at the age of 90, and who was one of the precursors of the Zionist movement. He was Rabbi in Zemlin, in Croatia, where Dr. Herzl’s parents afterwards lived. In his work “Goral la-Adonai” published in Vienna in 1857, he urged the restoration of the Jews suggesting the formation of a Joint Stock Company to induce the Sultan to cede Palestine to the Jews as a tributory country.