Zalman Shazar

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Zalman Shazar
זלמן שז"ר
Zalman Shazar.jpg
3rd President of Israel
In office
May 21, 1963 – May 24, 1973
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion
Levi Eshkol
Golda Meir
Preceded by Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Succeeded by Ephraim Katzir
Personal details
Born (1889-11-24)November 24, 1889
Mir, Minsk Governorate, Russian Empire
Died October 5, 1974(1974-10-05) (aged 84)
Jerusalem, Israel
Nationality Israeli
Political party Mapai
Spouse(s) Rachel Shazar
Children 1
Religion Judaism
West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer with Zalman Shazar (1966)

Zalman Shazar (Hebrew: זלמן שז"ר‎; Belarusian: Залман Шнэўр; Russian: Залман Шазар) (November 24, 1889 – October 5, 1974) was an Israeli politician, author and poet. Shazar served as the third President of Israel from 1963 to 1973.


Shneur Zalman Rubashov was born to a Hasidic family of the Chabad-Lubavitch denomination in Mir, near Minsk, in the Russian Empire (today in Hrodna Voblast, Belarus), he received a religious education as a youth.

He remained involved with Chabad for the rest of his life, assisting Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe in founding the village of Kfar Chabad, and at his behest, allowed the religious community in Israel to set up their own educational system.[1] He later carried on an extensive correspondence with the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and visited him on multiple occasions.[2][3]

In his teenage years he became involved in the Poale Zion Movement. Shazar immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1924, and became a member of the secretariat of the Histadrut.

Shazar died on October 5, 1974. He is buried on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

Journalistic and political career

Shazar served as the editor-in-chief of the Israeli newspaper Davar from 1944 to 1949.

He was elected to the first Knesset in 1949 as a member of Mapai, and was appointed Minister of Education in David Ben-Gurion's first government. He was not a member of Ben-Gurion's second cabinet, but retained his seat in the 1951 and 1955 elections. He also became a member of the Jewish Agency Executive in 1952. He resigned from the Knesset in 1956, and from 1956 to 1960 was acting chairman of the Jewish Agency's Jerusalem Executive.


Shazar was elected president by the Knesset in 1963. That same year, he attended the Funeral of John F. Kennedy after his assassination in Dallas. In 1964, when Pope Paul VI visited Israel, Shazar read to him the verse in Micah stating that though other nations might follow other gods, “we will walk in the Name of our Lord God forever”.[4] He was re-elected for a second term in 1968.

In 1969, Shazar sent one of 73 Apollo 11 Goodwill Messages to NASA for the historic first lunar landing. The message still rests on the lunar surface today. It states, "From the President of Israel in Jerusalem with hope for 'abundance of peace so long as the Moon endureth' (Psalms 72,7)."[5] In 1973 he was succeeded by Ephraim Katzir.

Published works

  • Morning Stars, Jewish Publication Society of America: Philadelphia, 1967. Translated from the Hebrew, Kochvei boker (Tel Aviv: Am Oved Publishers, 1950; 7th edition, 1966) by Shulamith Schwartz Nardi. Library of Congress Card Catalog Number: 66-17828.

Awards and commemoration

Graves of Zalman Shazar and his wife, Mt Herzl, Jerusalem
Shazar, on the 200 shekel bill

See also


  1. Interview with Rabbi Menachem Porush
  2. Video of visit
  3. Account of visit
  5. Rahman, Tahir (2007). We Came in Peace for all Mankind- the Untold Story of the Apollo 11 Silicon Disc. Leathers Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58597-441-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "List of Bialik Prize recipients 1933–2004 (in Hebrew), Tel Aviv Municipality website" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links