Former Prime Minister Yair Lapid — Lessons from the Horrors of the Holocaust

A proud Israeli who recently served as Israel’s 14th Prime Minister, Yair Lapid shares with podcast host Yael Eckstein one of the key lessons from the Holocaust—that every Israeli has a duty to make sure the Jewish state always exists. The son of a Holocaust survivor, Yair Lapid relates that his father’s story of surviving the bloodbath of the Jewish ghetto in Budapest is a stark reminder that he “cannot live in a world in which I don’t have a place to go.” In sharing his father’s story, the former prime minister says he is telling the story of the Jewish people. As Israel pauses next week on Yom HaShoah to remember and honor the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, you won’t want to miss this insightful and important conversation for both Christians and Jews.

Episode Notes

Yair Lapid was born and raised in Tel Aviv, the son of journalist and politician Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, who served as Israel’s Justice Minister, and novelist and playwright Shulamit Lapid. Yair followed in his father’s footsteps, pursuing an early career in journalism and broadcasting. He also authored twelve books, including his father’s memoir, Memories After My Death, about his father’s experiences as a Holocaust survivor.

Like his father, Yair Lapid also left journalism to enter politics. He served as Israel’s Minister of Finance from 2013-2014 and as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2021-2022. Yair Lapid became Israel’s 14th Prime Minister in July 2022, serving until December of that same year. He is now Leader of the Opposition, heading up the largest political party of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) that is not part of the coalition currently in power.

Unlike other memoirs or biographies about the Holocaust, Yair chose to author the book in his father’s voice. “When I started writing the book, I thought I was writing my father’s story. It took me a while to realize that I was actually writing the story of the Jewish people in the 20th century,” he explained. “I used his voice because it was running in my head that way, and it was my way of saying my farewells to him and to share with others what Israel meant to him.”

Yair said that his father lost many family members in the Holocaust and that the opportunity of being able to live in a country that protected him as a Jew was an incredible gift and blessing. “My father felt very strongly about the fact that we don’t just live here,” Yair said. “We have a part in something that is much greater than us. And this makes our lives meaningful, and you can’t ask from more than to have a meaningful life.”

Yair’s father also warned him about the fragility of the Jewish state. “For many of us, we think the fact that we live in Israel is something that goes without saying. But my father told me Israel is a constant creation, something that always has to be built. We can never be too diligent in working on this country and being a servant of the people.”

It is this voice that has had such an impact on Yair Lapid’s life and this philosophy that has so influenced his love for his country. “This is where my Zionism was born because I realized after hearing my father’s story that I have to have a place to go to,” Yair said. “I cannot live in a world in which I don’t have a place to go to. So it is our duty to make sure this place always, always exists.”

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