(1909 - 1999)
Josef Burg was born in Dresden, Germany in 1909, and
received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Leipzig in 1933.
During his youth in Germany, Burg was active in the Mizrahi movement and
active in promoting immigration to Palestine. In November 1938, on Kristallnacht, Burg was saved from
arrest by the Gestapo, and he came to Palestine the following spring.
After the war, Burg went to France and became the
director of the Paris-based Central European section of Mizrahi and Hapoel
Mizrahi, which aided Holocaust survivors and established institutions for
homeless Jewish children. Among his responsibilities was to seek out Jewish
children who were either adopted or hidden during the war.
Burg returned to Israel in 1949 and served in the Knesset until 1987 as the leader of the
National Religious Party. He also held numerous ministerial positions. In
Begin chose Burg to lead Israel's team that attempted to negotiate
Palestinian autonomy with the Egyptians.
Dr. Burg was the elder statesman of Israeli politics and religious Zionism. A
dignified leader and esteemed scholar, he embodied the bridge between the
religious and secular worlds. His son, Avraham, was at the time of his
death, Speaker of the Knesset.
Sources: Yad Vashem and
Sachar, Howard. A
History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time. NY:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1998.