David Bannett

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David Bannett
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Born(1921-10-29)29 October 1921
New York, NY
CitizenshipUnited States of America
Alma materCity College of New York
OccupationElectronics Engineer

David Rephael Bannett ; Born 29 October 1921) is an Electronic engineering, a pioneer in radar technologies in the Israel Air Force, a "purchase" person in the Haganah forces in the US, one of the first engineers in the Israeli electronics industry in the country’s first years, and the inventor of Shabbat elevator. Bannett was the first lecturer of electronics in the Department of Physics at Bar Ilan University and the Jerusalem College of Technology and is one of the founders of the Beit Hazon neighborhood in Kfar Haroeh.


David Rephael ("Daniel") Bannett was born in New York, to William and Esther (Tack) Bannett, both born in the US. He learned at a public school and in the afternoons studied at a Talmud Torah. When he reached Bar Mitzvah, he began to keep Mitzvah. In 1937, he graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School (Brooklyn) at age 16 and studied mathematics, physics and engineering at the City College of New York. During World War II he worked in the US army as a radar systems instructor, a technology that was classified and innovative at that time. Before the Israeli War of Independence, he was recruited to “purchasing” for the Haganah, as described in the next section.[1]

Bannett immigrated to Israel in 1949 with his two children and wife, Esther Chana, who united with her family in Israel.[1] Esther Chana is the daughter of Sarah Malka[2], president of the United Mizrachi (religious Zionism)|Mizrachi Women in Washington Heights, and Shemaryahu Cohen Margolis, from the Old Yishuv in Jerusalem, who escaped to the USA with the outbreak of World War I and headed the World Mizrachi Movement there. He later became one of the heads of the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Israel and a Yakir Yerushalayim.[3] Bannett was recruited to the IDF in a civilian position, serving as a “chief technical radar officer” for several years[1]. When immigrating to Israel, Bannett’s family joined a group from Hashomer Hadati. They settled in Kibbutz Kfar Darom, which was evacuated from the Gaza Strip during the War of Independence and became Moshav Bnei Darom in current times. In the mid-1950s David Bannett founded the Beit Hazon neighborhood in Kfar Haroeh, together with his friends :he:שמשון_נוביק|Shimshon Novick and David Shamir, after part of the hill was allocated for immigrants from English speaking countries.[4]

Bannett was the first electronics engineer at Tadir, a company that later merged with Ran, becoming Tadiran. He later worked at Elco, advising the security industry, the Israeli Security Agency (Shabak) and Mossad.[1] He worked for many years combining technology and halacha [Jewish law], as described extensively further on. In addition, Bannett was the first lecturer in electronics at Bar Ilan University, where he served as an outsourcing lecturer from the inception of the university until 1994. In addition, he was a member of the original staff at the Jerusalem College of Technology, which was a technological college at the time[5]. Bannett is also known as a Shofar blower, with a record of 82 continuous years in this position[6].

Purchasing in the service of the Haganah and the Israel Air Force

Based on his expertise in radar, which Bannett acquired as a radar instructor in the US army during World War II, he was recruited by the Haganah as a radar expert and joined Teddy Kollek’s team in New York. He opened a radar course for Haganah fighters who were studying in the USA and started up a business for purchasing radar and communication devices from the US army’s surplus.[7] At the time, the US had placed an embargo on supplying military equipment to the fighters in the War of Independence, so all purchasing activities were clandestine under the cover of legal activity. Among other things, Bannett smuggled a barge with diverse military equipment, including dismantled P-51 Mustang Fighter jet|fighter jets, onto a boat outside the USA’s territorial waters, with the equipment registered in his name. The barge was intercepted by the FBI’s coastal guard and Bannett was forced to escape from the USA for a while until the case subsided[8]. When immigrating to Israel in 1949, and following his service in the Haganah, Bannett was appointed as the Israel Air Force’s chief technical radar officer, a position he filled until the mid-1950s.[1]

Technology and Halacha: Shabbat Elevators and other challenges

Bannett was the first engineer of the Scientific and Technological Institute of Halacha, headed by Rabbi Levy Yitzhak Halperin[9]. He developed the Shabbat elevator and greatly contributed to additional developments, such as telephones permitted for use in hospitals on Shabbat, “Grama” devices permitted for use on Shabbat and a special door that enables Kohen|Kohens to be present in hospitals without concern for the Prohibition of Kohen defilement by the dead|prohibition of being defiled by the dead[1]. For many decades, Bannett travelled on a volunteer basis to Jewish communities around the world, providing advice on Shabbat elevators[1]. Despite his advanced age, Bannett is still considered a major authority in this field by halachic judicial figures who permit using Shabbat elevators. Bannett contributed diagrams, plans and an article in English to Rabbi Halperin’s book “Shabbat Elevators”.[9]


Bannett was married for 75 years to Esther Chana, from 1945 until her death in 2021. They have four children. Bannett still lives in Beit Hazon, in Kfar Haroeh, where they moved to in 1953[1].


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Bannett, Amihai (October 5, 2020). "The life of David Bannett( in Hebrew)" (PDF). ML Reference Library. Retrieved August 27, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. Tidhar, David (1965). Encyclopedia of the founders and builders of Israel(in Hebrew). Israel. pp. 4468–4469.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  3. Tidhar, David (1962). Encyclopedia of the founders and builders of Israel. Israel. pp. 3990–3991.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  4. Hoverman, Hagai (2003). Kfar Harohe(in Hebrew). Kfar Harohe: The local council, Kfar Harohe. pp. 237–240.
  5. Jerusalem school of applied sciences, Maariv newspaper (June 18, 1969). "Opening a new college" (PDF). ML Reference Library. p. 17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. Aigner, Zvi (September 7, 2020). "Guinness World Record? Blowing Shofar for 82 years continuously (in Hebrew)". Channel 7 (Israel).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. Slater, Leonard. The Pledge. New York: Pocket Books. pp. 191–192. ISBN 9780671204655.
  8. Hoverman, Hagai (May 1, 2009). "Planes inside boxes (in Hebrew)". Cannel 7 (Israel).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Halperin, Levy Yitzhak (1984). Shabbat Elevators. Scientific and Technological Institute of Halacha. pp. 7–23.

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