ISRAEL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES, institution whose main functions are to promote work in the sciences and humanities, to advise the government on activities in these fields, and to represent Israel in international bodies and conferences. The academy was founded under a 1961 law. Its seat is in Jerusalem. In 1959 the government appointed 15 leading Israeli scholars as the founding members. The subsequent membership may at no time number more than 25 representatives of the sciences and 25 for the humanities. Accepted applicants are co-opted for life by the existing members. Members who reach the age of 75 are not included in these numbers, although they continue as full members. The academy's president is appointed by the president of the state, on the academy's recommendation, for an initial, renewable, three-year term. Martin *Buber, the first president of the academy (1959–62), was succeeded by Aharon *Katzir-Katchalsky (1962–68) and Gershom *Scholem (from 1968). In 1981 Jacob Ziv was elected president.
Science research projects supported by the academy have included a study of the flora and fauna of the region, and the pre-historical excavations and a geological survey of the Lower Pleistocene of the Central Jordan Valley. In the humanities, the academy supported projects in Jewish history, literature, thought, and religion. In cooperation with the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, it prepared a Concordance to the Jerusalem Talmud, and, in cooperation with the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) of Paris, a survey of Hebrew paleography. Other activities were aimed at strengthening basic research in Israel, including founding and administering the Israel Science Foundation, with an annual budget of $53 million; taking part in the establishment of a new National Research Council (NRC, 2003) and an active Forum for National Research and Development Infrastructure (TELEM); helping initiate the projected five-year, $300 million Israel Nanotechnology Program (INP); and facilitating the participation of Israeli scientists in cutting-edge research at international high-energy physics (CERN) and synchrotron radiation (ESRF) mega-facilities.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.