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Subject: Zerah Warhaftig, signed the Israeli Declaration of Independence

Dies at 96
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Date Posted: September 26, 2002 11:02:05 EDT

Zerah Warhaftig, a signer of Israel's declaration of independence and a rescuer of Jewish refugees during World War II, died Thursday.

One of the 37 signers of the declaration on May 15, 1948, Warhaftig was a member of Israel's parliament from 1949-1981, and minister of religious affairs from 1961-1970.

Shaul Yahalom, a friend and a fellow member of the National Religious Party, called Warhaftig "very smart and very wise" and said Israel owes much of its Jewish character to his work.

"It's very difficult to find people like him today," Yahalom said.

Warhaftig often risked his own life to save Polish Jews persecuted by the Nazis, Yahalom said.

Warhaftig was born in 1906 in Belarus and arrived in Israel in 1947 after helping thousands of Jews flee the Nazis and settle in Israel.

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