JERUSALEM (Oct. 6)
Shneur Zalman Shazar, who retired last year as third President of Israel, died yesterday at the age of 84. He would have been 85 today. His body lay in state today at the Binyanei Haooma (Convention Hall) here where thousands of people — public figures and ordinary citizens–paid their last respects. He will be buried tomorrow in “The President’s Plot” on Mt. Herzl following a state funeral. No eulogies are expected due to the Succot holiday.
Israelis and Jews around the world mourned the man whose voice rang out across the Jewish world as a poet. Biblical scholar, Habad hasid, Socialist, Zionist, and Western intellectual for almost seven decades. President Shazar, who suffered a heart attack last May, was taken to Hadassah Hospital Sept. 29 for an unspecified ailment. An aide to President Shazar said he was suffering from a general deterioration of the body brought on by old age.
Prof. Avinoan Zlotnick, the physician who treated President Shazar in the week he was hospitalized, said the former President died after a quiet night. He suffered a renal insufficiency which led to heart and breathing stoppage. Prof. Zlotnick said President Shazar did not suffer from pain at his death. During the week he was in the hospital he was unconscious part of the time, and only very few visitors, among them former Premier Golda Meir and President Ephraim Katzir, were permitted to see him.
His immediate relatives were not at his bed at the time of his death. Both his wife, Rachel, and daughter have been hospitalized for a long period, and were confined to bed. Before he died his wife was brought in a wheel chair to see him from her convalescent home near Hadera, but he remained unconscious. During his last days, a group of Habad hasidim–President Shazar was closely associated with the Lubavitcher Movement–held a psalm and prayer vigil outside his hospital room.
AN EMINENT ZIONIST ORATOR
No one who ever heard President Shazar speak–and in his prime he could hold an audience entranced for three or four hours on end-can ever forget his warmth and ardor which made him one of the finest orators of Zionism. His addresses were always filled with learning and with fervor and emotion in equal part. He would often begin, like a rabbi, with a Biblical or Talmudic text, and would, so expound it and build upon it as to harness its own message and invest it. too, with his own thoughts and ideas.
At home in poetry as well as prose, his public addresses and private conversations always had the wealth of style of the rounded litterateur, and he brought to bear his scholarships in many fields, secular as well as Jewish, to further enrich his spoken and written word. His 10 years as President of Israel welded strong elements of Jewish tradition and Jewish pride to the national and scholarly heritage which his two predecessors. Dr. Chaim Weizmann and Itzhak Ben Zvi, had already built into the presidency.
IMBUED WITH TRADITIONAL JUDAISM
Schneur Zalman Shazar, whose original name was Shneur Zalman Rubashow, was born in 1889 in Mir, Russia. At home he imbibed both traditional Judaism–in the mould of Habad Hasidism which was his family’s allegiance–and Zionist idealism. Influenced by the writings of Ber Borochov. the father of Socialist-Zionism, he joined the Poalei Zion (Labor Zionists) early in this century. He was active in writing and publishing works for this movement, together with Borochov, Ben Zvi, and Rachel Yannait (she later married Ben Zvi) and was Jailed for it for two months in 1907.
In 1911 he spent the summer in Palestine on a kibbutz, falling in love with Rachel Blaustein, a poet from Galilee and came under the influence of Berl Katznelson. a Labor Zionist leader. He spent World War I years in Germany, studying and working for the local Zionist movement. He married Rachel Katznelson in 1920 and returned to Europe for four more years of academic and political work, and settled permanently in Palestine in 1924.
He was appointed to the executive committee of Histadrut, and In 1925 he joined the editorial board of “Davar,” the newly established labor dally, of which be became the editor-in-chief in 1944 after Katznelson’s death and served until 1949. Through these years he was active in the World Zionist Organization and toured the world repeatedly, his oratorical qualities gaining him fame and respect wherever he appeared.
In 1929, President Shazar was elected to the executive of the Vaad Lumi (National Council) and In 1930, with Chaim Arlosoroff, he edited the monthly “Ahdut Ha’Avoda.” He also participated in the founding of Mapai. In 1933, he went to Warsaw where he founded, and for a time edited, the Yiddish daily “Dos Vort.” In 1938 he attended the International Conference of Refugees at Evian, France. In 1943 he wrote the manifesto in which the Vaad Lumi drew the attention of the world to the holocaust.
ACTIVE IN NUMEROUS CAUSES
During the pre-State struggle with Britain, President Shazar participated In the 1946 hunger strike of Palestine’s Jewish community. In 1947 he was named by the Zionist General Council to the political committee collaborating with the Zionist Executive in its negotiations at the United Nations. He appeared on behalf of the Histadrut at the hearing of the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) In Jerusalem and was a member of the Jewish Agency at Lake Success, NY, when the UN General Assembly decided on the establishment of the Jewish State.
Early in 1948 President Shazar drafted the resolution passed by the Zionist General Council on April 12 announcing that Jewish independence would be established at the end of the Mandate. In 1949 he was appointed Minister of Education and Culture and promulgated the Compulsory Education and Culture and promulgated the Compulsory Education Law of the fledgling State. Following the Soviet Union’s (Continued P. 4, column 1)