Many of the greatest names in Israeli history belong to leaders of
military battles and to eloquent spokespersons who rallied the Jewish
people to fight for a modern homeland. Chaim Weizmann’s field of
“battle” was the game of diplomacy. His great skill in this most
delicate realm made it all the more appropriate that his final title was
that of the first President of the State of Israel.

Born in Russia in 1874, the third of fifteen children, Weizmann followed his Jewish cheder
education with gymnasium and multiple universities. A scientist by
training, he received degrees from universities in Germany and
Switzerland and taught at the University of Geneva before accepting a
position as senior lecturer at University of Manchester in 1904.

Weizmann became a British citizen. During the first World War, he gained
national attention when he developed a process for producing acetone, a
critical explosive component that greatly benefited the British war
effort. His national security work enabled him to make many influential
and important contacts.

An ardent Zionist, Weizmann attended every Zionist conference in Basil, Switzerland except the first. Weizmann’s belief was that the Zionists could only
succeed if there were people settling the land while diplomatic
maneuvers were put in place. Weizmann played a critical role in the
creation of both the Weizmann Institute for Science and Hebrew

Weizmann’s diplomatic victories were of great significance. It was
his efforts that resulted in the Balfour Declaration. He was the
diplomat who sat with the Hashemite Prince Feisal and reached a
(short-lived) agreement with the Arabs. And it was known that Weizmann
influenced the United States to support both the Partition Plan and

In 1952, after serving four years as President, Weizmann died at his home in Rehovot. Chaim Weizmann passed away on November 9, 1952, corresponding to the 21st of Cheshvan.

This Treat was last posted on April 26, 2012.

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