Yizhak Ben Zvi
b. Poltava, Russian Empire 1884 - d. Jerusalem, Israel 1963
Izhak Ben-Zvi, originally Izhak Shimshelevitz, was active in Jewish and Zionist causes in his birthplace, Poltava, Ukraine before he immigrated to Palestine in 1907. He and his future wife, Rachel Yanait were among the earliest of the few pioneers of the Second Aliyah who settled in Jerusalem. They played key roles in founding the 'Gymnasia' Rehavia School in Jerusalem and the 'Hashomer' self-defense association and served in the Jewish legion with David Ben Gurion. They founded the 'Achdut Ha'Avodah' (Labor Unity) Party, and became increasingly active in the 'Hagana'. Izhak Ben-Zvi was elected to the Jerusalem City Council and to the National Council, the shadow government of the Jewish community in Mandatory Palestine. In 1948 he was the Chair of the National Council ('Hava'ad Haleumi'). When Israel gained its independence, Ben-Zvi was among the signers of its Declaration of Independence. He served in the First and Second Knesset as representative of the 'Mapai' party. He was elected President of Israel on December 8, 1952, a position he retained until his death.
Rachel Yanait Ben Zvi
b.1886 Malin, Ukraine- d. Jerusalem, Israel 1979
Rachel Yanait, Originally Golda Lishanski, immigrated to Palestine in 1908.
Yanait was a teacher at the 'Gymnasia' Rehavia School, one of the main activists in setting up the 'G'dud Ha'ivri' (the Jewish Brigade) and one of the founders of 'Magen David Adom' and the 'Mo'etzet Hapo'alot' (Council of Women Workers).
In December 1918 Rachel Yanait and Izhak Ben-Zvi were married. They had two sons: Amram and Eli. Eli later was killed in Israel’s War of Independence, defending his kibbutz in the north, Beit Keshet.
Rachel Yanait took an active role in shaping the character of the President's Residence, an institution that symbolized the unity of the Jewish people gathered in the new state of Israel.