At 60 Years since Chaim Weizmann’s passing, a look back at a visionary leader
At an event marking the 60th anniversary of the passing of Dr. Chaim Weizmann in November, the former first president of the State of Israel and founder of the Weizmann Institute was praised as visionary leader who grasped hold of the ideal of Zionism and turned it into reality.
Prof. Motti Golani, an historian at the University of Haifa who is working on a new biography of Dr. Weizmann, was the keynote speaker of the event, which was held on the Weizmann campus in early November. Prof. Golani emphasized the centrality of Dr. Weizmann in the establishment of the State of Israel, saying that he took Herzl’s ideal of Zionism and turned it into a political reality through his broad international network, knowledge of multiple languages, and political savvy, which positioned Israeli’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, to lead the nascent State. Dr. Weizmann is credited with persuading the British government to issue the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which recognized the right of the Jewish people to establish a national home in Palestine.
Moreover, noted both Weizmann Institute President Prof. Daniel Zafjman and Prof. Golani, Chaim Weizmann understood that the economic future of the Jewish state—which was lacking in natural resources—depended on its brainpower, its ability to realize the potential of science and technology, and its connection to the West. He founded the Hebrew University and the Weizmann Institute with the belief that economic prowess must be built on a solid foundation of higher education and research
Dr. Weizmann led his vision by example: He was a chemist who gained renown for producing acetone from corn. It was discovery that had major significance for the British war effort in World War I because it allowed for the cheap production of smokeless gun powder.
“I hope and believe that he would be proud of what has been built here at the Weizmann Institute,” said Prof. Zafjman.
To view a video from the Event click https://vimeo.com/56037180