Nobel Laureaute in Chemistry Has Labor Zionist Background
Menu JTA Search

Nobel Laureaute in Chemistry Has Labor Zionist Background

Download PDF for this date

Dr. Aharon Klug, this year’s Nobel Prize winner for chemistry is the latest of a long list of Jewish Nobel Laureates, but he is probably the first former member of the Habonim (Labor) Zionist youth movement to be so honored. Klug belonged to the Habonim-Hechalutz in South Africa where he was brought up and educated before settling in Cambridge, in 1949.

He won the Nobel Prize for chemistry for developing electron microscopy which helps explain biological functions on the basis of chemical structure. Twenty years ago, Max Perutz, a Cambridge scientist, who is also Jewish, was joint winner of the some awards For the past 20 years Klug has worked at Cambridge University’s molecular division run by the Medical Research Council.

His wife, Lieve, is the daughter of Alexander Bobrow, who immediately after World War I established the Cape Town Jewish Orphanage for children whom he brought out of Russia under the auspices of the Joint Distribution Committee.


Since settling in Cambridge, the Klugs have retained their strong links with Judaism and Israel. Klug, who says he regards himself as a traditional Jew, is a member of the local Jewish Residents Association which runs the city’s synagogue Their elder son, a 28-year-old econometrics researcher at Tel Aviv University, was recently married in Israel to a British-born woman. Their younger son, aged 19, is studying physics at London University.

Klug was born in Lithuania and brought to South Africa at the age of two. Members of his mother’s family had settled there at the beginning of the century. He was educated at the universities of Witwatersrand and Cape Town. His brother Benjamin is a civil engineer in Johannesburg and his mother and a sister live in Durban.

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