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Warhaftig, Zerah


WARHAFTIG, ZERAH (1906–2002), lawyer and leader of the National Religious Party in Israel. Born in Volkovysk, Belorussia, Warhaftig became active in the Mizrachi movement and at the outbreak of World War ii fled to Lithuania and, through Japan, to the United States, where he became deputy director of the Institute for Jewish Affairs of the *World Jewish Congress. In 1947 he settled in Palestine, became a member of the Va'ad Le'ummi, and in 1948 a member of the Provisional State Council, serving as one of the framers of its constitution. He was also a signatory of Israel's Declaration of Independence. In 1948 he set up and directed the Institution of Hebrew Law at the Ministry of Justice. From 1948 to 1963 he was a lecturer of law at the Hebrew University. Warhaftig was repeatedly elected to the Knesset on the Ha-Po'el ha-Mizrachi (later *National Religious Party) list and served in the Israel government as minister of religious affairs from 1960. In 1970, Warhaftig was elected chairman of the curatorium of Bar Ilan University. In 1983 he was awarded the Israel Prize for special contribution to law and society.

Warhaftig published articles on religious and political affairs and, while in the United States during World War ii, published in English Starvation over Europe (1943), Relief and Rehabilitation (1944), and, after the war, Uprooted (1946). His works in Hebrew are Ha-Ḥazakah ba-Mishpat ha-Ivri ("Presumption in Hebrew Law," 1954) and Al ha-Shipput ha-Rabbani be-Yisrael ("Rabbinical Judgment in Israel," 1955).


Tidhar, 4 (1950), 2030.

[Joshua Gutmann]

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