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Yosef Shapira, World Bnei Akiva Leader, Dies at 87

Former Israeli government minister Yosef Shapira, who was one of the founders of World Bnei Akiva, has died.

Shapira died Saturday at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv, at the age of 87.

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 a member of the National Religious Party, which today is the Jewish Home party, and later founded the Religious Zionist camp, which split off from the NRP.

Prior to serving in the Knesset, 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 brings Jewish children from the countries of the former Soviet Union to Israel as immigrants.

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