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Portrait: Ephraim Katzir

Ephraim Katzir (Katchelsky) (1916-2009)

Scientist and the Fourth President of the State of Israel.

Katzir was born in Kiev, Russia in 1916. He made Aliyah in 1925 and graduated from the Hebrew Gymnasium of Jerusalem in 1933. He was a member of the socialist youth movement.

He studied biochemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he taught at a later time. In 1949 he was among the first scientists to join the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, where he headed the department of biophysics. In 1959 he was awarded the Israel Prize for Life Sciences, and in 1966 he was the first Israeli inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Katzir served, in the years 1966 – 1969, as the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Defense. In April 1973 he was elected by the Knesset as President of the State, a position in which he welcomed Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat in Jerusalem in November 1977. He refused to serve a second term due to his wife’s illness and returned to scientific research. One of his interesting accomplishments was his development of close ties with Japanese scientists, even though at the time, Japan officially took part in the Arab boycott of Israel.

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