HAMMER, ZEVULUN

HAMMER, ZEVULUN (1936–1998), Israeli political leader; member of the Seventh to Fourteenth Knesset. Hammer was born in Haifa, studied at the religious Yavneh high school, and joined bnei akiva in 1945, later becoming a member of its national council, and a leader in many of its branches. He served in the IDF within the framework of nahal , and attended the National Security College. Hammer graduated from Bar-Ilan University in Jewish and Bible studies. From 1961 he headed the Students Association, and was a member of the presidium of the National Students Association, in which capacity he was in charge of the World Union of Jewish Students. After graduation he entered the teaching profession. In the course of the 1960s he became leader of the national religious party young guard. After the Six-Day War he acted to transform the NRP from a party whose focus was on religious affairs to a movement whose main concern was the preservation of the integrity of Ereẓ Israel and security. In 1974 he actively supported the establishment of the gush emunim settlement movement. Hammer was first elected to the Seventh Knesset in 1969. From January 1973 to January 1974 he served as deputy minister of education and culture and in 1975–76 as minister of welfare in the first government formed by yitzhak rabin . In 1976 he was largely responsible, with his colleague MK Dr. Judah Ben-Meir, for ending the "historical coalition" between the NRP and the israel labor party . In 1977–84 he served as minister of education and culture, introducing free education in high schools and pre-compulsory kindergartens. He introduced Holocaust studies in 10th grade, made an effort to enhance Jewish studies in non-religious schools, and established a Supreme Committee for Scientific and Technological Education. Despite sincere efforts, he failed to close the educational gap between the Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jewish sectors of the population, on the one hand, and between the Jewish and Arab sectors, on the other. In 1986–90 he served as minister for religious affairs, returning to the Ministry of Education and Culture after the Labor Party left the National Unity Government in March 1990. The   NRP did not join the government formed by yitzhak rabin in 1992. After joseph burg , whom he had helped get elected as leader of the NRP in 1977, resigned the leadership in 1986, Hammer was elected secretary general of the NRP. As leader of the NRP he tried to move away from extreme positions and acted to try to build bridges between the religious and secular communities in Israel. Following Rabin's assassination Hammer was one of the national religious leaders who called for serious soul searching in the national-religious movement. In the elections to the Fourteenth Knesset the NRP under Hammer's leadership managed to regain some of its lost strength, going up from its 4–6 seats in the Tenth to Thirteenth Knessets to nine. In the government formed by binyamin netanyahu in 1996 he was once again appointed minister of education and culture, as well as deputy prime minister, in which capacity he served until his death in 1998 after an illness. (Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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