This week in Israeli history

Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek takes U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy and his wife, Joan, on a tour of the city’s boundaries in September 1971. Photo by Moshe Milner, Israeli Government Press Office


May 27, 1911 — Longtime Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek Is Born

Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem’s mayor from 1965 to 1993, is born in a Budapest suburb. His parents name him after Theodor Herzl. After growing up in Vienna, he moves to Palestine with his family in 1934 to escape Nazism. He is sent to Britain in 1938 and gains 3,000 visas for Jews in concentration camps. He helps smuggle Holocaust survivors into Palestine from 1940 to 1947. He runs for mayor at the urging of mentor David Ben-Gurion.

May 28, 1964 — PLO Is Established

A 400-delegate Palestinian National Council convened by Jordan’s King Hussein in Jerusalem establishes the Palestine Liberation Organization. Ahmad Shuqayri, a former lawyer from Acre, is elected the chairman and holds the position until being forced to resign in December 1967. The PLO’s National Covenant calls it the “mobilizing leadership of the forces of the Palestine Arab people to wage the battle of liberation.”

May 29, 1911 — Poet Leah Goldberg Is Born

Poet Leah Goldberg, an Israel Prize winner, is born in Königsberg, Prussia, now Kaliningrad, Russia. She begins writing poetry in Hebrew and Russian around age 12 in Lithuania and starts publishing poems in magazines and an anthology in the 1930s before moving to Tel Aviv in 1935. In 1950 she becomes a lecturer and later the chairwoman of the Hebrew University general and comparative literature department.

May 30, 2009 — Ex-President Ephraim Katzir Dies

Ephraim Katzir, Israel’s fourth president, dies at 93 in Rehovot. Born in Kiev, Katzir made aliyah with his family at age 9. He earned a doctorate in biochemistry from Hebrew University, was the founding head of the biophysics department at the Weizmann Institute, received the Israel Prize and served as the Israel Defense Forces’ chief scientist. He became president in May 1973 and served during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and Anwar Sadat’s 1977 visit to Israel.

May 31, 1665 — Shabbetai Zevi Declares Himself Messiah

Scholar Shabbetai Zevi declares himself the Messiah after meeting with a mystic, Nathan of Gaza, who reinforces Zevi’s longtime delusions. He carries his message to Syria and Turkey and gains many followers, including Jews drawn from Europe. Ottoman officials arrest him in 1666 and let him choose conversion or execution. He converts to Islam, devastating those who had embraced him as the Messiah.

June 1, 1948 — First Convoy Uses Burma Road

A 17-truck convoy takes the Burma Road, newly built under American Mickey Marcus along a mountain animal trail, to bring supplies to the besieged Jews of Jerusalem. The first convoy must be pushed through narrow and steep sections of the barely passable road, but it delivers desperately needed weapons, food, medicine and other supplies. By the end of June, the road is delivering 100 tons of supplies per night.

June 2, 1980 — Jewish Underground Bombs Palestinian Officials

The Jewish Underground, composed of Orthodox settlers, carries out its first terrorist operation, placing bombs on the cars of West Bank Palestinian officials. The mayor of Nablus loses both legs, and the mayor of Ramallah loses one leg. The Jewish Underground carries out an attack on the Islamic College in Hebron in July 1983 and is planning to bomb the Dome of the Rock when the Shin Bet arrests 15 members in April 1984.

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