The fifth president of the State of Israel, Yitzhak Navon, died in his Jerusalem home Saturday at the age of 94.
Navon leaves behind his wife, Miri Shapir, as well as a son and a daughter from his first marriage – to Ophira Navon, who lost her battle with cancer in 1993.
“With our heads bowed in deep sorrow, we report the death of my dear husband, our father, our grandfather, the fifth president of the State of Israel Yitzhak Navon,” his family stated. “Yitzhak Navon was a man of action and spirit; a novelist and a playwright, an educator and a peaceful statesman who loves his fellow man.”
Former President Shimon Peres eulogized his companion, saying: “Today we parted from one of the great sons of our people, who bore the wisdom of generations and his heart sang the wonderful song of Jerusalem. Both of us served for many years under Ben Gurion, and Navon even taught Ben Gurion Spanish. We were present for a period of meaningful action together under the greatest Jewish leaders of our generation.”
Peres added that their final meeting was only a few weeks ago. “Yitzhak Navon’s rare and generous contribution will not be forgotten. Your friendship will guide me and my companions through the long way that you are following.”
Yitzhak Navon was born in 1921 in Jerusalem, and fought under the Haganah in his home city during the War of Independence.
He joined the Knesset as an MK between 1968 for the left-wing Rafi party of Ben Gurion, which during that time merged with Labor, and was elected by his fellow MKs as the State of Israel’s fifth president in 1978.
Navon served as president until 1983, when he was succeeded by Chaim Herzog.
He did not opt to run for a second term and instead, unlike any of his predecessors or successors, opted instead to return to the Knesset as an MK, where he served as an MK from 1984-1992 – most of which (1984-1990) he spent as Minister of Education.