Moshe Sharett Dies in Jerusalem; Body Laid in State; Funeral Tomorrow
Menu JTA Search

Moshe Sharett Dies in Jerusalem; Body Laid in State; Funeral Tomorrow

Download PDF for this date

Moshe Sharett, chairman of the Jewish Agency executive, former Prime Minister and ex-Foreign Minister of Israel, died here this afternoon at Hadassah-Hebrew University Hospital. He was 71. He was also a member of Israel’s Parliament since the establishment of the State in 1948.

Death came after a long illness, and the cause was diagnosed as lung cancer. After being in and out of the hospital a number of times, he re-entered the institution 10 days ago, seemed to feel better, continued to see friends and members of the family, and dictating correspondence until yesterday, when he fell into a coma. His family was at his bedside at the end. He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

His body will be laid in state in the courtyard of the Jewish Agency here tomorrow. The funeral will be held Friday morning. Interment, in accordance with his wishes, will be in the old cemetery at Tel Aviv.

His family disclosed that, in a will he signed in August of 1962, he had requested that “news of my death not be published through mourning notices in the streets; no eulogies should be delivered at my funeral and interment; I should be laid to rest in the old cemetery at Tel Aviv, next to the graves of Dov Hoz and Eliahu Golomb.” Both were old friends and colleagues of Moshe Sharett in the Mapai Party.

The Sharett family requested that the public refrain “in the spirit of the will of the deceased, and in accordance with his oral requests,” from “publishing notices of mourning or condolence in the press.” The family also requested that no wreaths be sent or brought to the funeral.


The Israel Government and the Jewish Agency issued the following statement: “The Government, the World Zionist Organization and Knesset announce in grief and sorrow the passing of Moshe Sharett. The Jewish people have been bereaved of a leader of the State, a pilot of the movement and a teacher of the Nation. A man of true nobility in the House of Israel has gone to his eternal rest.

“Moshe Sharett has inscribed illustrious chapters in the book of Israel’s resurgence through his activities as head of the Jewish Agency’s political department on the eve of the establishment of the State, as Israel’s first Foreign Minister and as Premier, as spokesman for the Nation and the Jewish people, as a central pillar of the Zionist movement, as chairman of the Zionist executive in recent years, as one of the foremost leaders of Israel’s labor party and one of the standard bearers of the Zionist labor movement.”

In a lifetime of service to the Jewish people, not only in Palestine and Israel but around the world, Mr. Sharett had come into closer personal contact with world Jewry than probably any other of Israel’s leaders of his generation. He was popular, not only in his own land, but around the world. World Socialism considered him one of its outstanding spokesmen. The labor movement in Israel looked upon him as among the most ardent of defenders.

For many years in the front ranks of domestic politics in his homeland, he found opposition now and then, but his outright opponents were comparatively few in number and, even among them, he won tremendous respect. In Israeli politics, as well as in world diplomacy, he was known as a tough negotiator but one who was realistic enough to avoid pushing any dispute to its utmost limits. He had opponents in both Histadrut and Mapai, but never suffered unpopularity even among those who fought his proposals hardest. Universally, he was regarded as a negotiator par excellence, as a statesman with vision.


When the newly formed United Nations started looking into “the Palestine Question” in 1946, he was dispatched by the Jewish Agency to represent it at the UN as its official delegation head. It was under his guidance that the first great victory at the United Nations was won when, on November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted in favor of the partition of Palestine, giving the world organization’s approval of the formation of a Jewish State in Palestine.

When Israel formed its own Provisional Government, he was selected as Foreign Minister and, in 1949, he became the State’s Cabinet Minister in charge of foreign affairs. It was under his direction that Israel evolved a diplomatic corps considered by the world as second to none in skill and efficiency. After the Jewish State came into being, he Hebraized his name, becoming known as Moshe Sharett.

In 1953, when Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion retired to private life temporarily, Mr. Sharett became Prime Minister, holding the post of head of the Government until Mr. Ben-Gurion resumed the Premiership in 1955. Then Mr. Sharett re-assumed the position of Foreign Minister, holding that Ministry until he was elected to the chairmanship of the Jewish Agency’s executive.


Mr. Sharett, born Moshe Shertok at Kherson, Russia, in 1894, came to Palestine at the age of 12, in 1906. His high school studies were obtained at Herzliya Secondary School in Tel Aviv. He continued his studies at Istanbul University. Turkey, where he graduated from the Law Faculty, then went on to study at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Back in Tel Aviv in 1924, he Joined the editorial staff of “Davar,” the daily newspaper of the Histadrut, Israel’s labor federation, which he had helped found. From 1929 to 1931 he edited the paper’s English weekly supplement. When in 1931 Chaim Arlosoroff became the head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department, Mr. Sharett was named Political Secretary of the Agency. Following the assassination of Mr. Arlosoroff in the summer of 1933, Mr. Sharett was elected to the key post.

After having served on various important Jewish agency missions to the United States, England, France and Canada, he became one of the most active personalities, during World War II, in the recruitment of Jews to fight on the side of the Allies. It was he who initiated the formation of the Jewish Brigade and, in 1945, it was Moshe Shertok who presented its own flag to the Jewish Brigade in Italy.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund