The Father, the Son and the Bible That Swore In the President

Israel’s new head of state takes office some 38 years after his father assumed the same role

By Israel Today Staff |
Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

With pomp and ceremony worthy of a monarchy, Israel’s 11th president, Isaac Herzog, officially took office on Wednesday. (The swearing-in can be watched live at 4pm Israel time – here)

That’s fitting since the Herzog family is perhaps the closest thing the modern Jewish state has to an aristocracy. Herzog was born and bred in an Israeli religious and political dynasty. His grandfather, Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, was the first Chief Rabbi of Ireland as well as the State of Israel after gaining independence in 1948. His father, Chaim Herzog, was the sixth President of Israel from 1983 to 1993. His uncle was the legendary Israeli diplomat Abba Eben.

Aside from his family heritage, Herzog has served in a number of public roles. Most recently he was the Chair of the Jewish Agency, a historic institution that facilitates much of Israel’s relations with Jewish communities abroad. Prior to this position, he was a highly active politician serving as Chair of the Labor Party and filling numerous roles in government. For more on this, see: Who is Israel’s New President, and What Will He Be Doing?

On Wednesday, Herzog followed in his father’s footsteps in more ways than one.

Among the lavish ceremonies filling this important day was of course the official swearing-in of the new president. And at the center of that ceremony was the very same 107-year-old Bible that his father was sworn-in upon in 1983. But this Bible’s history goes back much further. It survived both world wars before being passed on to Isaac’s grandmother by her own father on the eve of her wedding. What a legacy!

Like his predecessor, outgoing-President Reuven Rivlin, Herzog is a soft-spoken and lovable public figure who enjoys great respect across the political spectrum. Also like Rivlin, Herzog’s overriding focus in his new role will be to help heal the deep rifts that are increasingly tearing apart Israeli society.

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