Professor Szewach Weiss, an Israeli politician, diplomat and former Israeli Ambassador to Poland, received the Peace Prize in Łódź on 22nd September 2019. The award is part of the “Wieczna Miłość” (“Eternal Love”) project initiated by painter and sculptor Wojciech Siudmak.
This is the fifth time that the award has been presented. It was established as a tribute to the artist’s younger brother, who died during a German army attack on Wieluń in early September 1939. The Peace Prize is intended to make contemporary society and future generations aware of how armed conflicts can be full of suffering and trauma. It is also intended to recognise people who are active across divides and who care for historical truth. Wojciech Siudmak created the “Wieczna Miłość” award as the symbol of the Peace Prize.
This year’s winner was born in 1935 in Borysław, in what was then the Lwów Province. Under German occupation, his family managed to escape from the ghetto. Over the following years, the Weiss family hid with a Ukrainian woman, Julia Lasotowa, in the home of a Polish couple Anna and Michał Góral and with Maria Potężna and her son Tadeusz.
After the War, at the end of 1946, the Weiss family left for the British Mandate of Palestine. There, Szewach attended an agricultural school in Netanya. He was quite successful in sport and, in 1954, was one of Israel’s best athletes. At the same time, he studied Political Science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and in the Law Faculty of Tel Aviv University. In 1975, he established the Media Faculty at Haifa University, where he became a professor.
He was also involved in politics. In 1977-1999, he served as a member of the Central Committee of the Labor Party and also as Speaker of the Knesset (1992-1996). An important period of his life was when he served as Israeli Ambassador to Poland in the years 2001-2003. His fluent Polish meant that he actively participated in public life. Since 2000, Prof. Szewach Weiss has been Chairman of the Council of the Yad Vashem Institute.