Israel’s First President
The Fellowship | February 17, 2016
Sixty-seven years ago today, Israel’s first president was sworn in. President Chaim Weizmann took the oath of office to serve the newly independent state of Israel on February 17, 1949.
Born in Belarus in 1874, Weizmann attended school in Germany and Switzerland. In 1904 he moved to England, where he lived and worked as a professor until 1937. He and his family then made aliyah (immigrated) to the Holy Land, where he lived for the remainder of his life.
While in Switzerland, Weizmann became a proponent of the Zionist movement, advocating for the return of the Jewish people to their historic and biblical homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel. He also strongly lobbied for the founding of a Jewish institution of higher learning, which led to the creation of Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, the oldest university in Israel.
Weizmann held several important positions, including president of the British Zionist Federation, president of the World Zionist Organization, and head of the precursor to the Zionist Organization of America.
In 1947, shortly after World War II, Weizmann worked closely with U.S. President Harry Truman to establish the state of Israel. After being elected the first president of Israel, Weizmann served in the position until his death in 1952.