Zalman Shazar (1890-1974)

Shneur Zalman Shazar, 3rd president of the State of Israel, scholar, writer, and Socialist Zionist. Born in Mir, Byelorus, with the name Ruboshov he grew up in nearby Stoltby, where he received a formal Jewish education. In 1905, he became active in the Zionist labor movement and became acquainted with Itzhak Ben-Zvi. After a brief visit to Palestine in 1911, Shazar went to study in Germany in 1912, where his fields of specialization where East European Jewish history, the Shabbatean movement, and Bible criticism. After years of Zionist involvement in Germany, he settled in Palestine in 1924. He became secretariat of the Histadrut and later editor-in-chief of its publishing arm, Am Oved. Shazar was instrumental in the formation of the Chabad community in Israel, served in the Knesset and in many ministerial positions. He was Israel's first minister of education. In 1963, Shazar was elected president of Israel by the Knesset, and during his term played host to many visiting dignitaries. This very learned man had a wide scope of interests which helped play a guiding role in the cultural development of Israel. Shazar died in 1974.