Chaim Weizmann’s roots were in the Russian Pale of Settlement, in the Town of Motol, where he received the normal religious education of that time and place. But as a young man, he also pursued scientific studies at Freiburg and Geneva, and received his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Geneva in 1900. In World War I, he directed a laboratory engaged in the production of acetone, a vital ingredient in explosives. Weizmann remained there until the end of the war, when he became almost totally dedicated to Zionism. Despite this passion for Zionism, he always retained a connection with scientific research, and in World War II, he again made valuable scientific contributions.
To summarize in a few brief strokes a long and productive career of contribution and self-sacrifice to the cause of a Jewish State, we cite the following:
When the Ugandan controversy came up, that would have substituted that territory in Africa for the Land of Israel, to appease the Arabs, he headed the group that opposed even its consideration.
He was the leader of negotiations in London that led to the issuance of the Balfour Declaration.
For his lifetime of contributions he was honored by the citizens of Israel by making Weizmann the first “Nasi,” the first President of an independent Jewish State in 2,000 years
Letting Weizmann speak for himself, we cite the following of his public remarks:
At a Zionist meeting in Paris in April, 1914:
“If we had money only, we could not stir the Jewish heart. But the fact that we have invested the Keren Kayemet money in Palestinian soil – that is what makes the Jewish heart beat faster.
Reminiscences (1927) at a Banquet in Czernowitz:
“Mine is no easygoing optimism, but a deep-rooted belief in a fate which will fulfill itself in spite of all difficulties…”
“When the Balfour Declaration was given to us, I said to Lord Balfour, ‘I do not know what a wonderful, great man you are that it was granted to you to give us this present and to associate such a pre-eminent work with your life.’ ”
On the Report of the Palestine Commission, to the 20th Zionist Congress (Zurich, 8/37):
“I speak… as a deeply religious man, although not a strict observer of the religious ritual. I make a sharp distinction between the present realities and the Messianic hope, which is part of our very selves, a hope embedded in our traditions and sanctified by the martyrdom of thousands of years, a hope which the nation cannot forget without ceasing to be a nation…”
“I told the Commission: G-d has promised Eretz Yisrael to the Jews. This is our Charter. But we are men of our time, with limited horizons, heavily laden with responsibilities toward the generations to come. I told the Royal Commission that the hopes of 6,000,000 Jews are centered on emigration…”
In the early 1920’s, Harry S. Truman ran a men’s clothing store, the Truman and Jacobson Haberdashery in Kansas City, Missouri, with his close wartime friend, Eddie Jacobson. When it became crucial that Chaim Weizmann meet with President Harry S. Truman on the eve of the critical UN vote on the recognition of the State of Israel, and Weizmann’s access was being blocked by State Dept. Arabists, Eddie Jacobson, to whom Truman could not say “No,” was pressed into action to arrange the meeting. After the meeting, Truman said that Weizmann was one of the most impressive human beings that he had ever met. The United States led the nations of the world in granting recognition to the newest member of the United Nations, the independent State of Israel.