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Former education minister, Labor stalwart Aharon Yadlin dies at 96

Yadlin, who participated in War of Independence, known for strengthening school system; ‘He said goodbye to us in his sleep,’ tweets his son, former top general Amos Yadlin

File: Former education minister Aharon Yadlin attends a conference in Beit Shemesh, on March 13, 2013 (Flash 90)
File: Former education minister Aharon Yadlin attends a conference in Beit Shemesh, on March 13, 2013 (Flash 90)

Aharon Yadlin, a former education minister and Israel Prize award winner and the father of former top military general Amos Yadlin, passed away Friday at the age of 96.

Yadlin was born in Ben Shemen in 1926. He helped to found 11 communities in the Negev in 1946 and was a member of the pre-IDF Palmach military brigade during the War of Independence.

Yadlin held a variety of positions over the course of his decades-long career, serving in the Knesset for 14 years between 1960-1979, and as education minister under the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin from 1974 to 1977. He was also secretary-general of the Labor party from 1972 to 1974.

As education minister, Yadlin strengthened schools in Israel’s rural areas. He also helped found the Beit Berl Academic College near Kfar Saba in central Israel in 1949, where he later taught.

In the 1980s, he served as secretary-general of the United Kibbutz Movement.

Yadlin was awarded the Israel Prize in 2010 for his accomplishments in Israel’s formal and informal educational systems.

“The State of Israel parts from Aaron Yadlin today, a man of earth and spirit… Yadlin, who put forth the concept that education must be the top priority of the State of Israel, cared for the future of children and invested the best of his years in education,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid tweeted.

President Isaac Herzog expressed his condolences as well.

“It hurts to say goodbye to the late Aharon Yadlin,” he tweeted. “More than anything else, Aharon Yadlin was a man of education. Along with being one of the leaders of the Labor and community-building movement in Israel, a man of vision and action, Aharon was an educator and a teacher with every fiber of his being. His many years of work in the Knesset and in the government for the education and future of the children of Israel will be a living monument to him for years to come.”

Aharon Yadlin is survived by three children, 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. One of his sons, Amos Yadlin, is the former head of IDF Intelligence as well as former executive director of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

“Our beloved father, Aharon Yadlin, passed away,” Amos Yadlin tweeted of his father. “A leader by virtue of his personality and values, one of the pioneers of settlement in the Negev, one of the leaders of the Labor movement, he was devoted to equality, Zionism and the value of individuals.

“A wise and humble man who always spoke honestly. At 96 years old, clear-headed and sharp, he said goodbye to us in his sleep.”

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement Friday afternoon in which he expressed his “deep sorrow” for Yadlin’s passing.

“One of the founders of the State of Israel… Aharon devoted himself to building the country even before the establishment of the state, with his contribution to the establishment of communities in the Negev in order to include them in the territory of the future Jewish state. He was an energetic minister of education, winner of the Israel Prize, a true man of the public in whom the Zionist vision resonated.”

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