from the June 2009 issue

It all began with a "familial" wager

In the late 1970s I was serving two functions --- banker and journalist. I wrote daily for the Jerusalem Post and worked full time at Israel's fourth largest bank. I enjoyed writing about science and technology. I had already written three books on these subjects. It was little wonder that I felt as if I were sitting on top of the world. Except at home I never mentioned my feelings to anyone. The better half complained that I was" full of myself". At the drop of a hat I would proclaim that there was no one in Israel who would refuse an invitation from me, for an interview. She laughed. Indeed, if you are right, as a prize, I will cook for you the best beef strogonov that you have ever eaten. The challenge was more than I could resist and the wager was struck.

For me it was really "a piece of cake". I contacted Mrs. Nardi, the President's secretary. The President then was, now of blessed memory, Ephraim Katzir. I was asked to submit 20 subjects for his approval and eventual discussion. . And so it was that a day and exact time were set. On the appointed day I was there an hour early and sat in my car waiting for 5pm to come. And when it finally did I approached the booth outside the President's house. The guard sprang into action. "We have been looking for you on the highway. No one could find you," blurted the guard. I realized the error of my ways. "May I go inside and apologize to the President, in person, for my lateness?" I asked. I was ushered into the President's study. He sat m e down and in his humble manner, assured me that we could begin our discussion. It turned out to be a superb interview. It was full of anecdotes and popular science. As per agreement, I submitted my 7,500-word article for approval. I was advised that President Katzir did not wish to have it published In any case the beef strogonov was mine to be had. It became clear that, in the President's opinion, I had exaggerated his scientific achievements and standing. He was too modest and would not have the article published. Few years later the Weitzmann Institute invited me for a birthday party to celebrate Professor Katzir's 70th birthday. His students came from all over the world. It was a wonderful day. If there was a lesson to be learned from these experiences is it was that an ounce of modesty would never harm.

(We enclose for our subscribers a copy of the article about President Ephraim Katzir z'l that appeared in the Israel at 60 publication)

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report June 2009

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