Israel’s ‘Father of Geography’ Dies at 101

“His mastery of the map of Israel and the world was absolute”

By TPS |
Photo: Creative Commons

Professor Moshe Brawer, Israel Prize laureate, founder of the Department of Geography and former Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Tel Aviv University, and considered by many to be the father of modern Israeli geography, passed away on Monday at the age of 101.

Brawer’s life work was writing and editing the atlases used by generations of Israeli students and which were often called the Brawer Atlas.

Brawer was born in Vienna in 1919 and immigrated with his family to Jerusalem when he was one-year-old.

In 1938, he began his studies at the University of London. At the end of the War of Independence in 1949, he returned to London and completed his certification as a Doctor of Sciences. In 1966, he established the Department of Geography at Tel Aviv University, and in 1969 he assisted in the establishment of the Department of Geography at Bar Ilan University.

He received the Israel Prize in 2002.

Brawer also served as an adviser to various Israeli governments to determine the borders in the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and also participated in discussions to determine the border with Syria during Yitzhak Rabin’s premiership.

In the years 2006–2014, he served as chairman of the Government Names Committee, which gives names to localities, major junctions and national parks.

In addition, Prof. Brawer served as president of the Geographical Association and for his work received the Geographical Association Award.

Beginning in 1950 and for the next 70 years, he published and edited 19 books. A few weeks ago, the 47th edition of the Brawer Atlas was published.

Prof. Gideon Biger of the Department of Geography at Tel Aviv University, who assisted Brawer in publishing the atlases in recent editions, said that “until his last day, Moshe devoted his life to promoting geography studies.”

“His mastery of the map of Israel and the world was absolute, and in every meeting with him, you were able to learn something new. He had a great talent to teach, and even at the age of 80 he would still enter the class every week and lecture his students,” Prof. Biger shared

Prof. Eyal Zisser, Deputy Rector of Tel Aviv University, recalled with excitement that Brawer was the first lecturer to teach him on campus as part of the “Geography of the Middle East” course.

“We were all blessed with his wisdom and vast knowledge. He was a role model as a scientist and researcher who worked to impart geographical knowledge to every home and every class. I sought his help until his last day,” he said.

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