Yuli (Yoel) Edelstein
Yuli Edelstein, the famous refusenik born in Chernivtsi, Ukraine in 1958, immigrated to Israel in 1987. Here, he became one of the founders and leaders of the Yisrael B'Aliyah party, which ran for the 14th Knesset in 1996 and won seven seats. Edelstein has been serving in the Knesset ever since. He served as Immigration Minister from 1996 to 1999, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset in various periods between 1999 and 2007, Deputy Immigration Minister in 2001 and 2003, and the Chair of the Golan Lobby in 1999 and 2006. In the 18th Knesset, Edelstein served as a Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister. He has served as the Speaker of the Knesset since March 2013.
Levi Eshkol
Born as Levi Shkolnik in 1895 in Ukraine, Levi Eshkol immigrated to Israel at age 18. Eshkol served as the Prime Minister from 1963 to 1969. Before that, in 1937, he played a central role in the establishment of the Mekorot Water Company, serving as its managing director until 1951. In this role, he introduced a system of countrywide water management that led to irrigated farming. He served as a Director-General of the Defense Ministry from 1950 to 1951, Agriculture and Development Minister in 1951, and Finance Minister from 1952 to 1963. Between 1949 and 1963, Eshkol also served as head of the settlement division of the Jewish Agency. He died in 1969 of a heart attack in Jerusalem during his tenure as Prime Minister.
Ze'ev Elkin
A recent candidate for mayor of Jerusalem, Ze’ev Elkin was born in 1971 in Kharkiv, and moved to Israel in 1990. Elkin has held a variety of positions in the Knesset since the 18th Knesset. Since May 31, 2016, he has been serving as of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister as well as a member of the Political-Security Cabinet. As a candidate for Jerusalem mayor, he earned support from the city's outgoing mayor, Nir Barkat. "I am ready to give up my post as a senior Minister and member of the security cabinet for Jerusalem because Jerusalem is a supremely important challenge," he told reporters in May.
Sofa Landver
Born in Leningrad in the Soviet Union in 1949, Sofa Landver made aliyah in 1979. She served on the Ashdod city council, has been director of the Ashdod Development Company, chairwoman of the Israeli Association of the Russian-Speaking Immigrants and a member of the Jewish Agency's board of trustees. She was first elected to the Knesset on the Labor Party list in 1996 and joined Yisrael Beytenu in 2006. Since 2009, until her party left the coalition in November (with a short, one-year break in 2015), she has served as the Aliyah and Integration Minister, which was renamed from the Immigrant Absorption Ministry in 2017, to reflect the changing scope of its work and the new priorities for working with immigrants.
Avigdor Liberman
The influential Israeli politician was born in 1958 in Moldova and immigrated to Israel in 1978. He served as Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office from 1996 to 1997, and was first elected to the Knesset in 1999. Since then, Avigdor Lieberman has served as Defense Minister, Foreign Minister, Transportation Minister, National Infrastructure Minister, Strategic Affairs Minister, and Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He is also the founder of the Yisrael Beytenu party, which holds five seats in the current Knesset. During his recent role as Defense Minister, Lieberman’s influence was apparent. While, for the most part, he stayed focused on security, Yisrael Beytenu has a detailed platform with ideas on social issues and relations with the Arab minority in Israel, and Lieberman doesn’t hesitate to let his views be known.
Mordechai Namir
Born Mordechai Nemirovsky in 1897 in Ukraine, Namir moved to Israel in 1924. Namir was active politically in various capacities until the founding of the State of Israel. From 1948 to 1949, he served as the first advisor in the Israeli consulate in Moscow, and from 1940 to 1950 as consul in Moscow. Namir was elected to the second Knesset in 1951 on the Mapai list. He served as Labor Minister in 1956, holding the post until he was elected mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa in 1959. Namir remained mayor and a Knesset member until 1969. He died in 1975 and was buried in Tel Aviv.
Moshe Sharet
Originally born Moshe Shertok in 1894 in Kherson, south Russia, Sharett immigrated to Israel in 1906 after serving in the Russian army. In 1910, he moved to Tel Aviv, becoming a member of the first graduating class of the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium. In 1954, Sharett became Israel’s second Prime Minister, a role he only held for a year. He always had a strong commitment to serving the State of Israel. To this end, Sharett held the role of secretary of the Jewish Agency’s political department from 1933 to 1948, served as Foreign Affairs Minister in Israel’s first government until 1956, and established the nation’s diplomatic service and bilateral relations with dozens of countries and the United Nation, of which Israel became a member in 1949. He died in Jerusalem in 1965.
Zalman Shazar
Born in Minsk in 1889, Zalman Shazar was, like many leaders of the time, a triple threat: a journalist, a poet and a politician. Having grown up in a community of the Chabad-Lubavitch denomination of Judaism, Shazar remained devoted to Chabad for his entire life. He emigrated to British Mandate Palestine in 1924 and became a member of the Histadrut labor federation. After serving as the Education Minister and the Jewish Agency Executive, Shazar was elected president in 1963. In 1966, he was acknowledged for his writing and received the Bialik Prize in literature. He died in 1974 and is buried on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem.