Yisrael Yeshayahu

Yisrael Yeshayahu
Date of birth 20 April 1908
Place of birth Sadeh, Yemen
Year of aliyah 1929
Date of death 20 June 1979 (aged 71)
Place of death Jerusalem, Israel
Knessets 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Faction represented in Knesset
1951–1965 Mapai
1965–1968 Alignment
1968–1969 Labor Party
1969–1977 Alignment
Ministerial roles
1967–1969 Minister of Postal Services
Other roles
1972–1977 Speaker of the Knesset

Yisrael Yeshayahu Sharabi (Hebrew: ישראל ישעיהו שרעבי, 20 April 1908 – 20 June 1979) was a Yemen-born Israeli politician, minister and the fifth Speaker of the Knesset.


Born in Sadeh,[1] Yemen, to a Jewish weaver by trade, he was sent to Sana'a at an early age where he studied under Rabbi Yihya Qafih (d. 1931). Yeshayahu soon became a member of the Dor Daim movement, before making aliyah in 1929. He became head of the Yemenite Immigrant and Eastern Jewry Department of the Histadrut in 1934, a position he retained until 1948 when he started organizing the immigration of Yemenite Jews, including Operation Magic Carpet.

A member of the Tel Aviv Workers Council, he was also a delegate to the Zionist Congress and the Assembly of Representatives. He served Deputy Secretary of Government and communications officer between the Government and the Knesset between 1948 and 1949.

He narrowly missed out on being elected to the first Knesset in 1949, but entered it in 1951 after the death of Knesset and Mapai party member Avraham Tabib, and was suddenly advanced from the seventy-seventh ranking member of the Mapai party to the twenty-ninth ranking member, displacing Aryeh Sheftel.[2] Yeshayahu retained his seat in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) in every election for the next twenty-six years, until 1977. He was appointed Minister of Postal Services in 1967, a role he retained until the 1969 elections. After serving as Secretary General of the Labour Party between 1971 and 1972, he was made Speaker of the Knesset in 1972, a role he retained until 1977.

At the age of twelve, he studied under the great Yemenite Rabbi and scholar, Yosef Qafih. In Yemen, he belonged to the Baladi-rite congregations of Yemenite Jews and active in the Dor Daim community, although he was originally from a community that embraced the Shami-rite.[3] Yisrael Yeshayahu co-edited a book with Aharon Tzadok in 1945.[4]


  1. A village south-east of Sana'a, and not to be confused with Sa'dah in Yemen's far north. See: Tehuda - vol. 30, (ed. Yosef Tobi), Netanya 2014, p.141, note 2.
  2. Tehuda - vol. 30, (ed. Yosef Tobi), Netanya 2014, p. 143
  3. Singly and Together - Israel Yeshayahu (ed. Avraham Wolfenzon), Tel-Aviv 1992, p. 23 (Hebrew).
  4. Shevuth Teiman, Yisrael Yeshayahu & Aharon Tzadok, Tel-Aviv 1945
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