From 1912 to 1914, Ben-Zvi studied Law in Constantinople, together with future prime minister David Ben Gurion. They returned to Palestine in August 1914, but were expelled by the Ottoman authorities in 1915. The two of them moved to New York City, where they engaged in Zionist activities and founded the HeHalutz (Pioneer) movement there. Together, they also wrote the Yiddish book The Land of Israel Past and Present to promote the Zionist cause among American Jewry.
Upon returning to Palestine in 1918, Ben-Zvi married Rachel Yannait. They had two sons: Amram and Eli. Eli later died in Israel's War of Independence, defending his kibbutz, Beit Keshet.
In 1919, Ben-Zvi helped found the Achdut HaAvodah (Labor Union) party, and became increasingly active in the Haganah. He was later elected to the Jerusalem City Council and to the National Council, the shadow government of the Jewish settlers in Palestine.
When Israel gained its independence, Ben-Zvi was among the signers of its Declaration of Independence on Friday, May 15, 1948. He served in the First and Second Knesset for the Mapai party. He was elected President of Israel on 8 December 1952 and served as president until his death. During his entire presidency, he maintained his home in a modest wooden shack in Jerusalem.
Ben-Zvi was a renowned researcher in Jewish history and ethnology, and in the history of the Land of Israel. The Ben-Zvi Institute, which studies the history of Israel and Jewish groups from North Africa and the Middle East is named after him.
See also: Presidents of Israel
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License (currently at http:// www. gnu.org/licenses/licenses.html . It contains material from the Wikipedia article at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yitzhak_Ben-Zvi