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Yosef Berger Barzilai Dead at 74

Yosef Berger Barzilai, the founder of the Palestine Communist Party in the 1920s, who later became an ardent anti-Communist and a devoted Jewish believer during his 21 years in Soviet prison, died here last Thursday at the age of 74. Funeral services were held Sunday at the Tel Aviv Cemetery.

During the 1920s, Berger was expelled by the British Mandatory authorities after he founded the Communist Party. He went to the Soviet Union and was appointed secretary of the Mideast Committee of the Comintern. But in 1934 he was arrested in one of Stalin’s purges and sentenced to death. Later his death sentence was commuted and he was rehabilitated. Nevertheless, he served 21 years in Siberian prisons.

During his prison years he began to practice traditional Judaism. In 1956 he was released and permitted to go to Poland from where he returned to Israel. Since his return to Israel in the late 1950s he served as an expert on Sovietology at Bar Ilan University.

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