Thursday, October 2, 2008

Center Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 52

Volume 4, Issue 52
October 2, 2008

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 440,625

Begin Center Founder Passes Away

Harry Zvi Hurwitz, Founder and President of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, passed away on October 1. He worked a full day on Sunday and went to celebrate the Rosh Hashana holiday with his family. In the evening, he suffered a massive heart attack. Unfortunately, all attempts at resuscitation failed.

Harry Hurwitz was born in Latvia in 1924 and in 1934 his family arrived in South Africa. He grew up in the Betar Movement and assumed a leadership role having initiated many youth groups and activities, including Betar Camp. He became very active in the leadership of the Zionist Revisionist Organization and was for many years the editor of the Jewish Herald of Johannesburg. He was a well-known figure in the South African Jewish comm unity.

Harry met Menachem Begin in 1946 in Tel Aviv when Begin was still leader of the Irgun and they maintained their personal friendship as well as their professional relationship until Begin's death in 1992. Harry spoke with Menachem Begin about making aliyah, but Begin told him that he still had much work to do in South Africa and that when he would be Prime Minister, he would call Harry to his government. And that was indeed what happened. In 1977, Menachem Begin assumed the premiership and called Harry the same day. On May 18, 1978, Harry and Freda Hurwitz arrived in Israel and three days later, Harry was at the Prime Minister's Office starting work.

During his years of service in Israel's government, he worked in the Prime Minister's Office as an advisor to Begin in External Information and World Jewry and he was stationed in Israel's embassy in the United States as the Minister of Information. After Begin left office, Harry continued to work with Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir as the advisor on World Jewry.

Harry was in South Africa when he heard about Menachem Begin's death. He announced on that very day that there would be established a Menachem Begin Heritage Center to remember the life, words and deeds of Menachem Begin. His vision was to create an institution similar to an American Presidential Library in Israel and he worked no n-stop to fulfill that vision. In 1998, the Knesset passed the Begin Commemoration Law paving the way for the creation of a Heritage Center and the following year, the Foundation Stone was laid. The Menachem Begin Heritage Center was officially opened on June 16, 2004. Harry was at his desk every day working to ensure the Menachem Begin Heritage Center's continuation from generation to generation.

Apart from establishing the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, Harry also wrote a book about Menachem Begin, Begin: His Life, Words and Deeds, that is in its third edition.

He is survived by his wife Freda, his son Hillel and his daughter-in-law Jennifer, his grandchildren Nirit, Ilan and Sharon and her husband Jay, and his two great-grandsons, Boaz and Eitan.

The funeral will be in Jerusalem at Har Hamenuchot Cemetery at 11:00AM on Friday October 3. The shiva will be at the Hurwitz home at Hanachal 4/2 in Givat Tzarfatit in Jerusalem. Condolences may be sent there or to the Begin Center.

His guiding hand, his words of wisdom and his tireless work will be deeply missed by everyone at the Center. His generous spirit, his warm laugh and his dedication to his family and everyone he loved will be missed by all.

Herzl Makov
Menachem Begin Heritage Center
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