Shmuel Ben-Artzi, the father of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s wife Sara, died this morning at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Yerushalayim at the age of 97.
The prime minister, his wife and their two sons were at his bedside when he died.
An educator, writer and poet, Ben-Artzi was born in Poland and immigrated to Israel in 1933. He served in the Irgun and Haganah organizations, and after the State’s establishment he became a teacher, a school principal and an educator in communities across the country.
His acquaintances described him as a modest, righteous and man, who was admired by his students and inspired them with his sensitivity.
Ben-Artzi had a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Bible studies, literature and Hebrew from the University of Haifa. He published books on Judaism, poetry books, children’s books, a novel and a best-seller called “Novardok.”
In an interview to Yediot Achronot five years ago, Ben-Artzi said he was extremely concerned by what was happening in Israel.
“I live in a world that has passed. In the 1930s and 1940s, everyone built this country and ideals could be felt in the air and on the walls. The main thing was giving and receiving.
“Had I known that this would be the reality in the country, I may not have left the yeshiva. This isn’t my Land of Israel, it’s not the Land of Israel I dreamed of – the murders and bribery and hollow politics.
“Sometimes I wonder where they find the time to engage in politics with the security-related situation being so difficult, as our enemies surround us from all sides and seek to destroy us.”
In the past few months Ben-Artzi has been living in the prime minister’s residence, where his daughter cared for him through his last days. Last year, Ben-Artzi helped his grandson Avner prepare for the National Bible Quiz.
Click here for a video about Ben-Artzi.