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Coveted Israel Prize Awarded

April 30, 1985
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel’s Arabic television station, a leading heart surgeon and a Yiddish poet were among the winners of this year’s coveted Israel Prizes, awarded at the traditional ceremony here last Thursday by Education Minister Yitzhak Navon. The prize ceremony marked the conclusion of Independence Day celebrations.

Arabic TV, in the words of the panel of judges, succeeds in finding the proper balance as a key medium serving Arabs in Israel and in neighboring countries, as well as Arabic-speaking Israeli Jews. The station gives a credible picture of Israeli life and society, the judges wrote, portraying Israel as democratic, progressive and peace-seeking.


In awarding the prize to Prof. Henry Neufeld who heads the department of heart medicine at Sheba Medical Center, the judges wrote that he “is outstanding as a physician, researcher, teacher and administrator.”

Neufeld established the first intensive care unit at Sheba Medical Center for victims of heart attacks and trained an entire generation of heart specialists who now lead the field throughout Israel. Neufeld’s work, the judges wrote, has contributed to Israel’s achievements in reducing the incidence of heart illness in the country’s population.


Avraham Sutzkever, the noted Yiddish poet whose work is steeped in the culture and the catastrophe of East European Jewry, became the first-ever recipient of an Israel Prize for Yiddish literature. The judges described him as a unique and exalted poet from his early creativity in Vilna to the present day in Israel.

Sutzkever, the author of more than 30 books, including “Lider fun Geto” (Songs of the Ghetto), 1946; “Fun Vilner Geto” (From the Vilna Ghetto), 1946; and “Geheymstet” (Secret Town), 1948, was imprisoned in the Vilna Ghetto during World War II. He helped rescue and hide from the Nazis important items from the archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

He escaped from the ghetto and became a partisan, returning after the war to Vilna to retrieve the hidden archival items and convey them to the YIVO headquarters in New York City. Sutzkever settled in Israel in 1947 and two years later became the editor of the Yiddish literary quarterly “Di Goldene Keyt” (The Golden Chain).

(Sutzkever, whose life has been bound up with the history of YIVO, serves, with Saul Bellow, as honorary co-chairman of YIVO’s 60th anniversary committee in New York.)


Prof. Baruch Padeh, “a pioneer in the field of public medicine,” in the words of the judges, was honored for a lifetime of work in Palestine and in Israel in the medical profession. The judges recalled his involvement in the pre-State kibbutz movement, his work in organizing the fledgling Israel Defense Force’s medical corps in 1948 and later as chief medical officer.

Padeh’s work more recently as director-general of the Health Ministry and his contribution to the nation’s medical developments as a senior physician and head of department in the Tel Hashomer Medical Center were also cited by the judges.


Another recipient of the Israel Prize was the Ben-Zvi Institute for the study of Oriental Jewish communities. The Institute was established in 1948 by the man who was later to become Israel’s second President, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. In the 1950’s, the Institute became part of the Hebrew University.

After Ben-Zvi’s death, special legislation was passed by the Knesset establishing the Ben-Zvi Foundation and the Institute was incorporated into that larger body. Since its inception, the Institute has encouraged researches and publications which have made an important contribution to the study of Oriental Jewry, its culture and its heritage.

Prof. Yehuda Blau, the leading Semitic languages scholar; was awarded the prize for his work in researching ancient Arabic languages and the authoritative books he has written on this subject.

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