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Israelis You Should Know: Menahem Stern

Menahem Stern (Photo: wikicommons/פנחס שטרן)

Lived: March 5, 1925 - June 22, 1989

Known for: An Israeli historian who was an internationally acclaimed expert on the Second Temple period, he was murdered by terrorists during the First Intifada.

Why you should know him: Menahem Stern was born to a Jewish family in Bialystok, Poland. As a boy, he studied both Hebrew and Latin. The family made aliyah (immigrated to the Holy Land) in 1938. Settling in Haifa and then Jerusalem with his family, Menahem continued his studies.

After high school, he worked on a kibbutz for a year before enrolling at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the History of the Jewish People, General History, and Classical Studies departments. Stern received his M.A. in 1950. After getting married in 1952, Stern spent more than two years studying at Oxford before returning to Jerusalem to receive his Ph.D.

In 1960, Hebrew University appointed Stern the Lecturer of the History of the Jewish People in the Second Temple Period. In 1964, he was promoted to Senior Lecturer, in 1966 to Associate Professor, and in 1971 to Full Professor.

Menahem Stern was recognized as one of the world's leading scholars of the Second Temple period. For his writing and research, he won the Israel Prize in 1977. Two years later, he was appointed to the Israeli National Academy of Science, becoming one of the society's most active members.

During the First Intifada, this historian of Israel and her people was murdered by terrorists. On June 22, 1989, Stern was making his daily walk through the Valley of the Cross to the Jewish National and University Library, when Palestinian terrorists murdered him, leaving behind his wife, Hava, of nearly forty years, as well as a son and three daughters.

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