Zalman Shazar

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Zalman Shazar
זלמן שז"ר
Portrait of Zalman Shazar.jpg
3rd President of Israel
In office
May 21, 1963 – May 24, 1973
Prime MinisterDavid Ben-Gurion
Levi Eshkol
Yigal Allon (Acting)
Golda Meir
Preceded byYitzhak Ben-Zvi
Succeeded byEphraim Katzir
Personal details
Shneur Zalman Rubashov

(1889-11-24)November 24, 1889
Mir, Minsk Governorate, Russian Empire (now Belarus)
DiedOctober 5, 1974(1974-10-05) (aged 84)
CitizenshipRussian Empire
Mandatory Palestine
Political partyMapai
Spouse(s)Rachel Shazar

Zalman Shazar (Hebrew: זלמן שז"ר; born Shneur Zalman Rubashov; Belarusian: Шнэер За́льман Рубашо́ў; Russian: Шне́ер За́лмен Рубашо́в; November 24, 1889 – October 5, 1974) was an Israeli politician, author and poet. Shazar served as the third President of Israel for two terms, from 1963 to 1973.


He was born to a Hasidic family of the Chabad-Lubavitch denomination in Mir, near Minsk, in the Russian Empire (today in Hrodna Voblast, Belarus). His mother's family descended from Joel Sirkis. In his early years Shazar received a religious education.

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 corresponded with the seventh 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. He worked as a translator in a Zionist publishing house. He visited Palestine in 1911 but returned to Russia to serve in the army. In 1924, after his release, he immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine, settling in Tel Aviv, and became a member of the secretariat of the Histadrut.[4]

Shazar was married to Rachel Katznelson-Shazar, with whom he had one daughter.[4]

He died on October 5, 1974 and was buried on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.[4]

Journalistic and political career[edit]

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.

President of the State of Israel[edit]

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”.[5] 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)."[6] In 1973 he was succeeded by Ephraim Katzir.

International and state visits[edit]

During his presidency Shazar made numerous international trips and state visits:

Published works[edit]

  • 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 recognition[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Interview with Rabbi Menachem Porush
  2. ^ Video of visit
  3. ^ Account of visit
  4. ^ a b c Brilliant, Moshe (October 6, 1974). "Zalman Shazar is dead at 84: President of Israel for ten years". The New York Times. p. 65. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  5. ^[bare URL PDF]
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "List of Bialik Prize recipients 1933–2004 (in Hebrew), Tel Aviv Municipality website" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 17, 2007.

External links[edit]