Celebrating Chaim Weizmann’s Role in The Balfour Declaration

As the year’s countdown to the centenary of the Balfour Declaration on 2 November 2017 begins, we are proud to announce that Weizmann UK is part of the Balfour 100 campaign which is a coalition of over 23 British-Jewish cross-communal and pro- Israel organisations.

The Balfour Declaration was a letter from the UK Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild (as a representative of the British Jewish Community and for passing on to the Zionist Federation) on 2 November 1917 promising support for the creation of a national homeland for the Jewish people in Israel. As part of the Balfour 100 campaign, we are proud of the British support for a Jewish and democratic state that strives to uphold the rights of all peoples living in the land and are proud of the contribution that Great Britain made towards the creation of the State of Israel.

Of particular cause for celebration for us at Weizmann UK is the very central role in securing the Balfour Declaration that was played by Dr Chaim Weizmann, founder of the Weizmann Institute of Science and first President of the State of Israel.

Chaim Weizmann‘s activities as Zionist and incisive political operator are recounted in detail on the Balfour 100 website as are the considerable contributions of his wife Vera Weizmann.

For Weizmann UK we celebrate in particular the dual achievements of Chaim Weizmann as a scientist and statesman and over this centenary year we will reflect on his vision that science would play a key role in the success of Israel as a country.

Testament to that vision was his foundation in 1934 of the Daniel Sieff Research Institute in Rehovot, that would later be renamed the Weizmann Institute of Science in his honour.

In 1949, when Chaim Weizmann was elected the first President of the State of Israel it was clear that his political and scientific ambitions for the country were closely intertwined. In his opening speech at the Knesset, he said:

“We must build a new bridge, connecting science with the human spirit. ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.’ All my life I have endeavoured to make science and research the basis of our national undertaking. But I also know that beyond science, there are lofty values that hold the solution to the ills of mankind, the values of justice and honesty, peace and fraternity.”
Thanks to Weizmann’s vision, today Science and technology is one of Israel’s most developed sectors. The percentage of Israelis engaged in scientific research and the amount spent on R&D in relation to GDP is the second highest in the world.

The Weizmann Institute’s scientific achievements go from strength to strength. It was recently ranked 10th in the world by the highly regarded Leiden University ranking of scientific research impact. It was the only Institute outside of the US to make the top 10.

The Balfour 100 campaign has produced the following materials and will be holding events over the year to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.


A comprehensive website on the Balfour Declaration is now available and provides authoritative, historical and accurate detail about the Balfour Declaration. It has annotated versions of the 5 Declaration drafts, biographies of key players involved, and reactions to the Declaration from historic figures. There is also an extensive timeline of events leading up to the Declaration, as well as a shorter, more comprehensive slideshow which has questions and answers relating to each event in the timeline. You’ll be able to see this at www.balfour100.com.

Educational resources

A wide range of educational resources have been designed to educate a variety of audiences on the Balfour Declaration, and will be available to download from the website. These include a Balfour Basics ‘primer’, FAQ, informal education programmes and more.

Balfour Shabbat

The Jewish community will also be holding a cross-denominational ‘Balfour Shabbat’ on 3rd and 4 November 2017. Synagogues across all British Jewish denominations and movements will be marking the Balfour Centenary in their own way on this Shabbat.

Balfour 100 Lecture

On 1 November 2017 there will be a Balfour lecture. Advice on how to secure tickets to the event will be released in 2017.

Other events

There will be a number of events and conferences between November 2016 and November 2017. Academics are planning various key note lectures and lecture series around the country. Community groups in Manchester are hosting a large scale event on October 31 2017. The Balfour website will also host details of Balfour related events around the country, and there will be a communal calendar where this information will also be readily accessible.