Pinhas Rutenberg was born

5/2/1879

Pinhas Rutenberg (PHG1017136)Pinhas Rutenberg was born on 2.5.1879 in the Ukraine. He graduated from his engineering studies with distinction, despite the numerus clausus, the limited number of Jews allowed to attend universities in Russia. Rutenberg was active in the revolutionary movement in Russia and subsequently was forced to immigrate to Italy in 1907. There, he acquired experience in a new field – hydraulic engineering. He invented a new method for the construction of dams and the exploitation of water power in order to generate electricity. While in Italy, he discovered Zionism and adopted its ideas. He contacted Jabotinsky during the First World War and they worked together to establish the Jewish Legion.
 
In 1919, Rutenberg immigrated to Palestine, and began measuring water resources in the Land of Israel. Rotenberg planned to build a power station that would exploit the water of the Jordan River and the Yarmouk River in order to generate electricity. At the same time, he acted to protect the Jewish settlements from attacks by Arabs, and served as commander of the Haganah in Tel Aviv. In 1921 he received the long-awaited concession from the British Mandate to establish power stations. His first power station was built in Tel Aviv, which was then, still a small town. Later, other stations were set up in Jaffa, Haifa, Tiberias and in Aram-Naharaim near the Jordan River. In 1932, a power station at Tel-Or was established, followed by other large power stations in Haifa and Tel Aviv (the Reading Station).
 
At the beginning of World War II he served as president of the Vaad Leumi (the Jewish National Council), and tried to find a way of coexistence between Jews and Arabs, and to resolve the differences between the Histadrut Haovdim (the Workers Federation) and the Revisionists. He contributed greatly to the establishment of the Tel Aviv Port, and initiated the establishment of Palestine Airways Ltd. On January 3rd, 1942, he died after a long illness. The Ashkelon power station was named after him.
 
Rutenberg wrote in his will, a few weeks before his death: "The split in our people to sects, ethnic groups and political parties had always worked against us. This war between brothers had led us to trouble, and if we won't cease it will destroy us... whether we like it or not, we are in the same boat - let's understand each other and be brothers for creation, operation and building". (From: Tidhar, D. (1947). Encyclopedia of the Founders and Builders of Israel (Vol. 2, p. 866-868)