Ephraim Katzir

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Ephraim Katzir
אפרים קציר
4th President of Israel
In office
24 May 1973 24 May 1978
Prime Minister Golda Meir
Yitzhak Rabin
Menachem Begin
Preceded by Zalman Shazar
Succeeded by Yitzhak Navon
Personal details
Born(1916-05-16)16 May 1916
Kiev, Russian Empire
Died30 May 2009(2009-05-30) (aged 93)
Rehovot, Israel
Nationality Israeli
Political party Israeli Labor Party
Spouse(s)Nina Gottlieb
Profession Scientist
Signature Katzir, Ephraim signature.svg

Ephraim Katzir (Hebrew : אפרים קצירEfrayim Katsir; 16 May 1916 – 30 May 2009) was an Israeli biophysicist and Israeli Labor Party politician. He was the fourth President of Israel from 1973 until 1978. [1]

Hebrew language Semitic language native to Israel

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Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that applies approaches and methods traditionally used in physics to study biological phenomena. Biophysics covers all scales of biological organization, from molecular to organismic and populations. Biophysical research shares significant overlap with biochemistry, molecular biology, physical chemistry, physiology, nanotechnology, bioengineering, computational biology, biomechanics, developmental biology and systems biology.

The Israeli Labor Party, commonly known as HaAvoda, is a social democratic and Zionist political party in Israel. The Israeli Labor Party was established in 1968 by a merger of Mapai, Ahdut HaAvoda and Rafi. Until 1977, all Israeli Prime Ministers were affiliated with the Labor movement. The current party leader and candidate for prime minister is Avi Gabbay.



Katzir was born Efraim Katchalski, son of Yehuda and Tzila Katchalski, in Kiev, in the Russian Empire (today in Ukraine). In 1925 (several publications cite 1922 [2] ), he immigrated to Mandate Palestine with his family to escape Soviet terror by the newly-elected Joseph Stalin and settled in Jerusalem. In 1932, he graduated from Gymnasia Rehavia. [3] Like his brother, Aharon, he was interested in science. He studied botany, zoology, chemistry and bacteriology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1938, he received an M.Sc, and in 1941, he received a PhD degree. [3] In 1939, he graduated from the first Haganah officers course, and became commander of the student unit in the field forces ('Hish). He and his brother worked on development of new explosives. In May, 1948, Ephraim was appointed commander of the "Heyl Mada" (HEMED) – scientific research and development corps. [4] His brother, Aharon Katzir, chairman of the Department of Polymer Research at Weizmann Institute, was murdered in the Lod Airport Massacre.

Kiev City with special status in Kiev City Municipality, Ukraine

Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine, located in the north-central part of the country on the Dnieper. The population in July 2015 was 2,887,974, making Kiev the 7th most populous city in Europe.

Russian Empire Former country, 1721–1917

The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.

Ukraine Sovereign state in Eastern Europe

Ukraine, sometimes called the Ukraine, is a country in Eastern Europe. Excluding Crimea, Ukraine has a population of about 42.5 million, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world. Its capital and largest city is Kiev. Ukrainian is the official language and its alphabet is Cyrillic. The dominant religions in the country are Eastern Orthodoxy and Greek Catholicism. Ukraine is currently in a territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. Including Crimea, Ukraine has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe and the 46th largest country in the world.

Katzir was married to Nina (née Gottlieb), born in Poland, who died in 1986. As an English teacher, Nina developed a unique method for teaching language. As the president's wife, she introduced the custom of inviting children books' authors and their young readers to the President's Residence. She established the Nurit Katzir Jerusalem Theater Center in 1978 in memory of their deceased daughter, Nurit, who died from accidental carbon monoxide exposure and another daughter, Irit, killed herself. [5] They had a son, Meir, and three grandchildren. Katzir died on 30 May 2009 at his home in Rehovot. [3] [6]

Poland Republic in Central Europe

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

Scientific career

After continuing his studies at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, Columbia University and Harvard University, he returned to Israel and became head of the Department of Biophysics at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, an institution he helped to found. In 1966–1968, Katzir was Chief Scientist of the Israel Defense Forces. [3] His initial research centered on simple synthetic protein models, but he also developed a method for binding enzymes, which helped lay the groundwork for what is now called enzyme engineering.

Columbia University Private Ivy League research university in New York City

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan, New York City. Established in 1754, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.

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Weizmann Institute of Science public university and research institute in Rehovot, Israel

The Weizmann Institute of Science is a public research university in Rehovot, Israel, established in 1934, 14 years before the State of Israel. It differs from other Israeli universities in that it offers only graduate and postgraduate degrees in the natural and exact sciences.


President Katzir meeting with Bedouin sheikhs Flickr - Government Press Office (GPO) - Pres. Katzir Shaking hands with one of the Bedouin sheikhs.jpg
President Katzir meeting with Bedouin sheikhs

In 1973, Golda Meir contacted Katzir at Harvard University, asking him to accept the presidency. He hebraicized his family name to Katzir, which means 'harvest'.

Golda Meir fourth prime minister of Israel

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On 10 March 1973, Katzir was elected by the Knesset to serve as the fourth President of Israel. He received 66 votes to 41 cast in favour of his opponent Ephraim Urbach and he assumed office on 24 May 1973.

Knesset legislature of Israel

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Ephraim Urbach was a distinguished scholar of Judaism. He is best known for his landmark works on rabbinic thought, The Sages, and for research on the Tosafot. He was an unsuccessful candidate to be President of Israel in 1973.

In November 1977, he hosted President Anwar Sadat of Egypt in the first ever official visit of an Arab head of state. In 1978, he declined to stand for a second term due to his wife's illness, [6] and was succeeded by Yitzhak Navon. After stepping down as President, he returned to his scientific work.

Awards and commemoration

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  1. 1 2 Arnon, Ruth; Sela, Michael; Shindler, Colin (2016). "Ephraim Katchalski-Katzir. 16 May 1916 — 30 May 2009". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society . doi:10.1098/rsbm.2016.0015.
  2. KUnderground group's explosives maker who became president. Theage.com.au. Retrieved on 9 September 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Israel's fourth president, Ephraim Katzir, dies". The Times of India Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. 31 May 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
  4. Katzir bio. Zionism-israel.com. Retrieved on 9 September 2011.
  5. Nurit Katzir Jerusalem Theater Center. Jerusalem.muni.il. Retrieved on 9 September 2011.
  6. 1 2 Israel's fourth president Ephraim Katzir dies at 93 Haaretz, 31 May 2009
  7. "Israel Prize recipients in 1959 (in Hebrew)". Israel Prize Official Site. Archived from the original on 7 March 2012.
  8. The International Who's Who 2004. p. 859.
  9. "Katzir Scholarship Program". Archived from the original on 23 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-23.

See also