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Rachel Katznelson-Shazar

Rachel Katznelson-Shazar

First Lady of Israel
The basics
Occupations Writer Essayist Educator
Countries Israel
A.K.A. Rachel Katznelson, Rachel Shazar
Gender female
Birth October 24, 1885 (Babruysk, Mogilev Region, Belarus)
Death August 11, 1975 (Jerusalem, Jerusalem District, Israel)
Politics Mapai
Spouse: Zalman Shazar
Education Saint Petersburg State University
Authority ISNI id Library of congress id VIAF id
Rachel Katznelson-Shazar
The details

Rachel Katznelson-Shazar (Hebrew: רחל כצנלסון-שזר‎‎), also known as Rachel Shazar, (born 24 October 1885, died 11 August 1975) was an active figure in the Zionist movement. Her husband was Zalman Shazar, the third President of the State of Israel.


Born Rachel Katznelson in 1885 (or possibly 1888) in the city of Babruysk, then in the Russian Empire and now in Belarus, into a traditional Jewish family. She graduated from Russian high school with honors at the age of 18. This gave her the possibility of going to university, which was only open to a small percentage of the Jewish community. She was accepted to the St. Petersburg University to study literature and history. She also studied at the Academy for Jewish Studies in St. Petersburg, where she met her future husband, Zalman Shazar - then known as Shneur Zalman Rubashov - whom she married in 1920.

Katznelson emigrated to Ottoman Palestine, now Israel, in 1912 and was immediately active in a number of Zionist organizations, having previously joined the Labor Zionist movement in 1905 in her home town. In 1916, she was elected to the first Cultural Committee of the Labor Movement, alongside Berl Katznelson and Yitzhak Tabenkin (both also originally from Babruysk), and worked with them to enhance the education of workers. She was later elected as a member of the cultural committee of the Achdut Ha'avodah party and, in 1924, of the Histadrut.

Throughout her life, she was actively involved with the Histadrut and the Mapai party, and performed many public duties. She also assisted her husband in his various public functions as a member of the Knesset, a government minister, a member of the Jewish Agency executive, and ultimately as President of Israel from 1963 to 1973.


  • In 1946, Katznelson-Shazar was awarded the Brenner Prize.
  • In 1958, she was awarded the Israel Prize, in social sciences.
  • In 1968, she received the Yakir Yerushalayim (Worthy Citizen of Jerusalem) award.


Katznelson's brothers were Avraham Katznelson (one of the signatories of the Israeli declaration of independence), Joseph Katznelson (a companion of Ze'ev Jabotinsky and one of the Irgun's two Chiefs of Illegal Immigration) and Reuben Katznelson (a member of the Jewish Legion and Joseph Trumpeldor's sergeant and companion in the Battle of Gallipoli). Reuben Katznelson was the father of Shulamit Katznelson and Shmuel Tamir.

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