Ephraim Katzir (Katchalski) 1916-2009

מאת מקור, שימוש הוגן, https://he.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2052626

Ukrainian-Jewish relations are rich in common pages of history and outstanding figures who once played a significant role in Israel's formation and development. One of them is Ephraim Katzir (Katchalski), a native of Kyiv, an outstanding biophysicist, and an influential Israeli politician who was the fourth president of Israel.

Ephraim was born in 1916 in Kyiv, but his family moved to Palestine within ten years. He grew up in a family of intellectuals, where his grandfather was a respected rabbi, and Jewish traditions were revered. Having settled in Palestine with his family, Ephraim graduated from high school in Jerusalem and enrolled in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The world of biophysics became the field of his professional interest and growth, as evidenced by his success in university studies and research. Ephraim received a doctorate in biophysics in 1941. His research on amino acids and proteins was gaining publicity and attracting attention in the scientific world. In 1950, he received the Weizmann Prize, which was later followed by the Israel Prize and the Rothschild Prize. For his outstanding research achievements, Ephraim Katchalski was elected to the National Academy of Sciences of Israel. He later received an invitation to join the American Academy of Sciences.

Such a successful scientific career played a special role for Ephraim: Golda Meir, the prime minister of Israel at the time, invited him to run for president. He was an indisputable moral and intellectual authority of that time and received massive support in the presidential elections. In May 1973, he took office as the fourth president of Israel. His tenure was not easy as it was filled with historic, far-reaching decisions for the state. As president, he led his country through the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and dealt with many complex diplomatic challenges. Ephraim Katzir's popularity was considerable, giving him a good chance of being re-elected for a second presidential term in 1978, but he decided to return to scientific work.

Ephraim Katzir always remembered and repeatedly mentioned Kyiv, where he was born and spent his childhood years. Memories of Kyiv often appear in his memoirs, written shortly before his death. After his presidency, Katzir visited Kyiv as a world-renowned scientist. He lived a bright, meaningful life, fulfilling himself as a political figure and researcher. He died in Israel at the respectable age of 93, surrounded by his closest relatives, and was buried in Jerusalem.