Prof. Shevah Weiss passed away
„One can leave for ever only to be always close….”
pr. JAN TWARDOWSKI
It was with deep sorrow and disbelief that we received the news about the death of prof. Shevah Weiss, an eminent political scientist, a humanist, an academic teacher, who dedicated his whole life to interpersonal and intercultural dialogue. A former Israeli ambassador to Poland, a journalist, author of a multitude of scientific, literary and journalistic books.
Doctor honoris causa of the Medical University of Lodz in 2011.
In all respects, an outstanding character.
We have lost a Friend to our University, Lodz and Poland.
We honour His memory!
Rector, Senate and the community of the Medical University of Lodz.
Prof. SHEVAH WEISS – ‘a child of Holokaustu’, one-time Israeli ambassador to Poland, a soldier, a radio journalist, a diplomat, a political activist, an academic teacher, a graduate at Department of Political Science in Jerusalem and Department of Law in Tel Aviv, a founder of the Department of the Media at the University of Haifa, president of the Yad Vashem Council and the Speaker of the Knesset, author of dozens of books, in short, a true one-man institution whose rich biography was often interwoven with tragic moments.
He was born on 7 July 1935 in Boryslaw, Lviv province, in a merchant family. His early childhood was interrupted by the outbreak of WWII. Together with his family he spent the first seven months of the war nightmare in the shelter in the basement where they struggled to survive. Thanks to the help of Polish neighbours they survived and lived in Gliwice, Wałbrzych and Głuszyca, where young Shevah attended a Jewish school.
In 1946 the Weiss family decided to get to Palestine via Czechoslovakia, Austria and Italy where they continued their scape by boat. This coincided with the UN announcement of their decision to create the State of Israel. Having arrived in Palestine, Shevah Weiss started his education at Agriculture School in Hadassim, he also practiced athletics and weightlifting competitively at that time. After his school-leaving exams he served in the Israeli Armed Forces (1954-1956). Next, he studied Political Science at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Law in Tel Aviv. He graduated in 1961. The next stage of his academic career was marked by his obtaining the PhD degree in political science at the University of Jerusalem. Along with his research he fulfilled himself in public activities. He was a member of Haifa City Council (1969-1981) and Central Committee of the Israeli Labour Party (1977-1999). In 1981 he was elected to the Knesset; between 1988 and 1992 he served as a Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, and between 1992 and 1996 as Speaker. He was also Knesset delegate to the Council of Europe (1984-1999). He also performed a very important social function: as president of the Yad Vashem Council in 2001-2004. From 2000 to 2004 he served as an Israeli ambassador in Poland. Since 2004 he gave lectures on Israeli history and politics at the Faculty of Journalism and Political Sciences, University of Warsaw. Since 2008 he was the Head of the Centre for Research on Israel and the Jewish Diaspora at the Faculty of Journalism and Political Sciences, University of Warsaw as well as a visiting professor at the Academy of Special Education in Warsaw.
Prof. Shevah Weiss authored a number of books discussing political, sociological and World War II-related issues, as well as books for children and adolescents. The content of his books often points out the common ground between Poland and Israel, Polishness and Jewish traditions. He was guided by the philosophy of mutual understanding, respect and transnational solidarity in a constantly changing world.
Shevah Weiss was also a prolific journalist and his articles appeared in Ha’aretz, Yedioth Aharonot, Ma’ariv, Davar, Al-Hamishmar, The Jerusalem Post, Jewish Political Studies Review, Jewish Social Studies, Parliamentary Affairs, Wester Political Quarterly. He also ran his blog in Rzeczpospolita.
He received numerous awards and distinctions, i.a.: Bene Merito badge of honour received from Minister Radosław Sikorski (2009); in 2004 President Aleksander Kwaśniewski awarded him the Grand Cross (1st class) of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland; in 1995 The Council for a Beautiful Israel awarded him Tolerance Prize, he received Amitai Award for Integrity in Public Service in 1996, St. Brother Albert Prize in 1998. He was granted the Honorary Citizenship of the City of Kalisz, the City of Płońsk and the City of Wałbrzych. In 2006 he received an honorary doctorate of the University of Wroclaw and in 2011- an honorary doctorate of the University of Warsaw. In 2008 he became a member of the International Chapter of the Order of the Smile.
Shevah Weissonce said:
(.)’Though the contemporary world is full of violence, I am searching for positive features in people, the features that lead towards goodness and beauty.’ THAT IS THE SHEVAH WE WILL KEEP IN OUR MEMORY.