LAHAT, SHLOMO, (Cheech) Israeli military commander and mayor of Tel Aviv. Lahat was born in Berlin and brought to Ereẓ Yisrael by his parents in 1933. In 1941 he joined the Haganah. In the War of Independence he fought in the Givati brigade. While serving in the IDF, he studied law at the Hebrew University, and in 1956 was the first Israeli officer to be sent to the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Upon his return Lahat was appointed an instructor in the IDF Command and Staff School. In 1959 he was appointed head of the Operations Branch in the General Staff Operations Department. In 1962 he transferred to the Armor, and in 1966 was appointed deputy commander of the Armor units. In the Six-Day War he was appointed governor of East Jerusalem, and at the end of the war was appointed head of the Central Command Staff with the rank of brigadier general. In 1969 he was appointed commander of the Armored Forces in Sinai, and during the War of Attrition was commander of the operations along the Suez Canal until June 1970, being promoted to the rank of major general. In 1970 he was appointed chief of the army's Manpower Division. Lahat left active military service in March 1973 with the rank of major general.
In November 1973 Lahat was elected mayor of Tel Aviv at the head of the Likud list. He served as mayor for 20 years. As mayor he was responsible for major administrative and operational changes in the city, investing heavily in communal, cultural, health, and education facilities, and rehabilitating the city's coast and beaches. It was with his active support that the Suzanne Dalal Center for Dance and Theater, the Tel Aviv Cinémateque, the new Opera House, and many other cultural enterprises were realized. While he was mayor the city absorbed 40,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and the steady decline in the population of the city was reversed. The municipality adopted the Gesher theater, whose original cast was made up entirely of new immigrants from Russia. A special unit was established in the municipality for the conservation of buildings in the Bauhaus and International styles. Lahat was replaced as mayor by Roni *Milo in 1993.
After leaving city hall Lahat entered private business and served in various public functions including president of the Council for Peace and Security, which was among the organizers of the peace demonstration on November 4, 1995, at which Prime Minister Yitzhak *Rabin was assassinated; chairman of the Yad Vashem Fund; chairman of the friends association of the Loḥamei ha-Getta'ot Museum; chairman of the Rabin Association; chairman of the board of directors of the Yiddish theater; and member of the Board of Governors of Tel Aviv University, the college in Jaffa, and other public institutions. He was chairman of the Diaspora Museum, Beth Hatefutsoth.
Shlomo Lahat died on October 1 2014 at the age of 86 at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Medical Center after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease surrounded by his loved ones including his wife. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was quoted saying that "I have no doubt that Israeli society will miss him".
[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.