Thousands Mourn Death in Israel of Hebrew University’s President
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Thousands Mourn Death in Israel of Hebrew University’s President

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Israeli President Chaim Herzog led thousands of mourners at the funeral Tuesday of Hebrew University Yoram Ben-Porath, who was killed Sunday with his wife and small son in a road accident near Eilat.

Ben-Porath, 55; his wife, Yael, 42; and their 5-year-old son, Yali, were laid to rest at the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in Jerusalem.

Yoram Ben-Porath, a leading Israeli economist, was for the past two years the much-admired president of the Hebrew University as it experienced a period of economic retrenchment and recovery.

His wife was a lecturer in philosophy at the university and was completing studies for a law degree.

The family was on vacation when a truck slammed into the back of their small Peugeot. The accident occurred as the car was turning off the Eilat highway for the ancient copper mines at Timna, 12 miles from the Red Sea resort town.

The truck hit the car in the course of overtaking, at high speed, several other vehicles. The driver, a 21-year-old soldier, was remanded in custody by an Eilat magistrate pending the completion of police inquiries.

Herzog eulogized Ben-Porath as a” beloved and successful leader who represented the university with talent and with affection.”

Referring to a heathen god of human sacrifice, the president bewailed the “Moloch” of road accidents in Israel, which he said carried off such good and innocent people as the Ben-Poraths.

Echoing Israeli public concern at the rate of road accidents in the country, Herzog cried, “How long?” as many of the mourners wept.

A particularly moving eulogy was delivered by a close friend, Professor Menachem Ya’ari, who dwelt on the engaging character of the Ben-Poraths’ son and on the couple’s devotion to him.

The Israeli-born Ben-Porath earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Hebrew University and his doctorate at Harvard. He was widely known for his research on surveys and random sampling.

He was named president of the university in 1990 after a long career with the university, including service as rector and as William Haber Professor of Economics. He was president of the Israel Economic Association, director of the Maurice Falk Institute for Economic Research in Israel from 1979-84, and consultant to the Rand Corporation.

Ben-Porath is survived by two sons and a daughter from a previous marriage.

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