Israelis You Should Know: Yigael Yadin

The Fellowship  |  October 28, 2016

Israelis You Should Know: Yigael Yadin

Lived: March 20, 1917 – June 28, 1984

Known for: Israeli archaeologist and politician who served as the second Chief of Staff of the IDF.

Why you should know him: Yigael Yadin was born in Jerusalem to an archaeologist father and a mother who was an educator and women’s rights activist. Joining the Haganah (the precursor to the IDF) at age 15, he served until 1946, leaving to be a university student.

As Israel faced the fight for her independence in 1948, Yadin was called back to military service by David Ben-Gurion. As Head of Operations during the War of Independence, Yadin made many of the conflict’s key decisions. In 1949, he was named IDF Chief of Staff, serving in that position for three more years.

After his military service, Yadin spent his life as an archaeologist. In 1956 he won the Israel Prize for his translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He also excavated many of the most important sites in the Holy Land, including the Qumran Caves, Masada, Hazor, Tel Megiddo, and the Solomonic Gate at Tel Gezer, which he considered the highlight of his long and noted career.

Although he left the military many years before, Yadin reentered a life of service on the eve of 1967’s Six-Day War, serving as the prime minister’s military adviser. He also served the Jewish state after the Yom Kippur War of 1973, after which he investigated the actions that led to the conflict.

Yadin served in Israeli politics from 1976 until his retirement in 1981. Married to his wife Carmela for 40 years – the couple had two daughters – Yadin passed away at the age of 67 and was buried at Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem.

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