Birthday: November 27, 1874
Died At Age: 77
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Also Known As: Chaim Azriel Weizmann, Chaim Weizmann
Born in: Motal
Famous as: Former President of Israel
Spouse/Ex-: Vera Weizmann
siblings: Maria Weizman
children: Michael Oser Weizmann
Died on: November 9, 1952
place of death: Rehovot
Founder/Co-Founder: Democratic Zionist Fraction, Weizmann Institute of Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
education: University of Fribourg, Center for Advanced Security Research Darmstadt
Who was Chaim Weizmann?
Chaim Weizmann was born into a large Jewish family and cherished his faith and cultural identity throughout his life. He went abroad as a young adult to study science seriously, finally settling in the United Kingdom to begin his career teaching chemistry. He is responsible for the discovery of industrial fermentation, in which a certain mixture of chemicals is used to mass produce another substance. This discovery greatly aided the war efforts for Britain and gained Weizmann the respect of many British cabinet members. He used his new found influence here to champion his Zionist cause. He was of the opinion that the Jewish people needed a home and that Jerusalem should be it. He fought his whole life to bring Jewish education to Palestine and served as President for many pro-Zionist organizations in Britain and worldwide. Because of these efforts, he was chosen as the first President of Israel. Though the position was mostly ceremonial he used it to promote Israel on a global platform. A staunch advocate of the Zionist cause all his life, Chaim Weizmann continued to work for a separate land for Jews all throughout his life. His contribution to the scientific community is commemorated by the University of Manchester which gives an annual award named after the famous scientist.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born to Rachel, a housewife, and Oizer Czermerinsky Weizmann, a timber merchant. He was one of fifteen children.
In 1892, he left what is now Belarus to study chemistry in Germany at the age of 18. He studied at the ‘Polytechnic Institute of Darmstadt’ and then at the ‘Technische Hochschule’ Berlin. He finally he earned his PhD in organic chemistry from the ‘University of Fribourg’ in Switzerland.
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In 1901, he began his teaching career at the ‘University of Geneva’ and went on to be a senior lecturer at the ‘University of Manchester’ in England three years later. It was here he became a leader for the British Zionists.
Also in 1901, he teamed up with Martin Buber and Berthold Feiwel to lobby for a Jewish school in Palestine. It took 11 years, but eventually the ‘Technion – Israel Institute of Technology’ was established.
It was during his time at the ‘University of Manchester’ (roughly beginning in 1904) where he discovered how to use bacterial fermentation to make more of a given substance. This scientific practice is now known as ‘acetone-butanol-ethanol fermentation’ and proved very useful during WWI.
His scientific discovery of industrial fermentation earned him the respect of British cabinet members who were then more sympathetic to his Zionistic goals. In 1907, he visited Jerusalem and helped found the ‘Palestine Land Development Company’, a more practical approach to his Zionism.
Ten years later in 1917, he worked with Alfred Balfour as the President of the ‘British Zionist Federation’ to create the ‘Balfour Declaration.’ This supported the idea that Palestine should be the natural home for Jewish people. Weizmann released a statement defending his form of Zionism, saying there was nothing malicious about it – simply a Jewish longing for home.
He initiated a peace treaty in 1919, and an agreement was signed with the Arabic Prince Faisal that hoped to establish a positive relationship between Arabs and Jews.
In 1920, he was named president of the ‘World Zionist Organization’ and worked with Albert Einstein to fundraise for a Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
The ‘Daniel Sieff Research Institute’ endowed by Zionists was created in 1934. Weizmann did research in the laboratories here. He was also President in-charge of the organization.
In 1936, he spoke on the loss of support for the Zionist cause throughout the past decade and attempted to stir passions as he claimed there were 6,000,000 Jews that were forbidden from living from many places in this world.
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This movement turned into the Jewish Brigade during the Second World War and fought on the Italian front. However, the rising violence in Palestine discouraged Weizmann from the movement and his influence within the group began to slip.
In 1949, he was elected President of Israel, the first one ever for this country. This position was largely ceremonial, but he was able to meet with US President Harry Truman and convince him to recognize the newly formed state of Israel. He held this position until his death.
In 1904 and the following years, he began his discovery of industrial fermentation. This discovery allowed substances to be mass-produced more easily using a chemical formula. This greatly aided British efforts in World War I and gained him respect from Churchill and his aides.
Throughout his life, he was a champion for leading the Zionist cause. In 1920, he served as president for their worldwide alliance.
In 1949, he was chosen to be the first president of Israel. He convinced the US and many other countries to recognize Israel as a serious new state, although the position was largely ceremonial.
Awards & Achievements
Multiple times in the 1920s, he was reelected as honorary president of the British Zionists. After being a champion for the Zionist cause his whole life, he was asked to be the first president of Israel.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Vera Weizmann in 1906 and they had two children together, Benjamin and Michael. Michael was killed fighting in the Royal Air Force during World War II when his plane was shot down.
Ezer Weizmann, his nephew, became president of Israel following in his uncle’s footsteps.
In 1949, the ‘Daniel Sieff Research Institute’ was renamed the ‘Weizmann Institute of Science’ in his honor. He published ‘Trial and Error: The Autobiography of Chaim Weizmann’ in the same year.
The ‘University of Manchester’ awards ‘The Weizmann Prize for Biochemistry’ annually for an undergraduate senior showing promise in the field.
This famous personality earned his British citizenship in 1910 but gave it up 38 years later to assume his role of President of Israel.
His Jewish culture was predominant in every area of this famous personality’s life; he even met his wife Vera at a meeting for their school’s Zionist club.
The famous politician was ill in a hotel room in New York City when he found out about and accepted his nomination for President of Israel.