Vera Weizmann

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Vera Weizmann

Vera Weizmann (November 27, 1881 – September 24, 1966), wife of Chaim Weizmann, the first president of the State of Israel, was a medical doctor and a Zionist activist.

Biography[edit]

Casual group shot of four men and two women standing on a brick pavement.
Albert Einstein and his wife Elsa Einstein (centre) with Zionist leaders, including Chaim Weizmann and Vera Weizmann, Menahem Ussishkin, and Ben-Zion Mossinson, on arrival in New York City in 1921

Vera Chatzman was born in the town of Rostov, in the Russian Empire, the daughter of Isaiah and Feodosia Chatzman. She initially studied music before taking up medical training in Geneva, Switzerland.[1] There she met Chaim Weizmann at the University's Zionist Club.

In 1906 she married Weizmann at Zoppot, Prussia, today called Sopot, in Poland, and later that year they settled in Manchester, England. There they had two sons, Benjamin born in 1907, and Michael born in 1916. The Weizmann family lived in Manchester for thirty years, from 1906 until 1937. In 1913, Vera Weizmann received her English medical license and worked as a doctor in the public health service at clinics for infants, developing advanced techniques for infant supervision and nutrition.[2]

The Weizmanns’ younger son, Michael, served as a pilot in the British Royal Air Force during the Second World War and was killed on active service when his plane was shot down over the Bay of Biscay.[3]

Volunteer work[edit]

Vera Weizmann, 1946

In 1916, Weizmann gave up her work as a pediatrician when she joined her husband upon his appointment as the scientific adviser in chemistry to the British Admiralty during the First World War. In 1920, she was one of the founding members of the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO), and served as its president, alternating with Lady Sieff, for forty years. When the Second World War broke out in 1939, she devoted all of her efforts to Youth Aliyah (Aliyat Hanoar), an organization that she established in England and continued to head as honorary president while living in Israel.

During Israel's War of Independence, Weizmann focused on the treatment and rehabilitation of wounded soldiers. Immediately after the war, she established the Association of the War of Independence Handicapped Veterans and served as its president. She also established two centers for the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers, Beit Kay in Nahariya and the Department of Rehabilitation at Sheba—Tel Hashomer Hospital.

In addition to her activity in these organizations, Weizmann gave her support to many voluntary organizations such as ILAN, Magen David Adom, for which she served as President, and dozens of other private and institutional charitable endeavors.

Weizmann House[edit]

As first lady, Weizmann insisted on designing the interior of the house built for the couple at Weizmann Institute—to the dismay of the architect. All the furniture and art were originals, most of them imported from England or France.[4]

Published work[edit]

  • The Impossible Takes Longer: The Memoirs of Vera Weizmann

External links[edit]

  • [1] VERA WEIZMANN 1881 – 1966 by Esther Carmel-Hakim

References[edit]