This week in Israeli history

Dec. 19, 1936: A.B. Yehoshua Born

Avraham B. Yehoshua, who becomes one of Israel’s most acclaimed writers, is born in Jerusalem, where his family goes back at least five generations. Influenced by such authors as Franz Kafka, William Faulkner and S.Y. Agnon, Yehoshua leads a new wave of Israeli writers with novels including “The Lover,” “Mr. Mani” and “The Late Divorce.” He wins the Bialik Prize, the Israel Prize and two National Jewish Book Awards.

Dec. 20, 1976: Rabin, National Religious Party Split

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s Labor-led coalition falls apart as he fires two members of the National Religious Party, Religious Affairs Minister Yitzhak Rafael and Welfare Minister Zevulum Hammer, from his Cabinet and sees a third, Interior Minister Yosef Burg, resign. Rabin drops the NRP’s 10 Knesset members from the government, leaving him with 57 of 120 seats, and he calls for an election in the spring rather than face a no-confidence vote.


Dec. 21, 1968: Assaf Gavron Born

Assaf Gavron, a writer and musician, is born in Arad to immigrants from England. After working as a newspaper food writer in the 1990s, he publishes his debut novel, “Ice,” in 1997. In addition to several other novels, his books include a short-story collection and a compilation of his newspaper columns. He is a singer-songwriter for the band The Foot and Mouth and is known for his Hebrew translations of books by Roth, Salinger and others.  

Dec. 22, 1938: Rambam Hospital Opens

The British Government Hospital of Haifa, now the Rambam Health Care Campus, opens with 225 beds at the foot of Mount Carmel. The British high commissioner for Palestine, Harold MacMichael, hails the hospital as the “finest medical institution in the Middle East.” Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Erich Mendelsohn-designed building, MacMichael hails the hospital as a reflection of Haifa’s growth and multicultural mix.


Dec. 23, 1907: Stern Gang Founder Born

Avraham Stern, who becomes one of the most wanted members of the Jewish underground fighting British rule in Palestine, is born into a Zionist family in Suwalki, Poland. Stern joins the Haganah in 1929, but he and a few others break away to form the more radical Irgun in 1931. After the Irgun suspends anti-British activities in 1940, he forms Lehi, also known as the Stern Gang, to keep up violent attacks. He is caught and killed in a raid in 1942.

Dec. 24, 1920: Keren Hayesod Founded

Meeting in London, the World Zionist Congress launches Keren Hayesod (The Foundation Fund) to raise money for the Zionist movement and help fulfill the Balfour Declaration’s promise of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Now known in English as the United Israel Appeal, the organization collects enough money to help tens of thousands of Jews fleeing Europe to reach British-controlled Palestine over the next two decades.

Dec. 25, 1925: Tehiya Founder Geulah Cohen Born

Politician and activist Geulah Cohen is born in Tel Aviv. In 1942 she signs up with the Irgun military underground, then in 1943 jumps to the more radical Lehi (Stern Gang). After independence, she works as a journalist until she is elected to the Knesset as a Likud member in 1973. She breaks from Likud in opposition to the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979 and forms the nationalist party Banai, which becomes Tehiya (“Revival”). She serves in the Knesset until 1992.

Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education (, where you can find more details.