Gershon Zohar is an Israeli diplomat born in Poland, a former Israeli ambassador to Poland, but also a music ambassador, with his life and passion building bridges between the nations of Israel and Poland. He was born in 1948 in Warsaw and spent the first 9 years of his life there. In 1957, he left with his parents and sister to Israel.
Like all immigrants, he started learning Hebrew from an early age in Israel. However, it was in Polish that he read the entire library of his parents’ classical literature, which they brought to their new homeland. To this day, when he counts, he does it both in Polish and Hebrew. He studied law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and piano at the conservatory. This fascination with music remained with him throughout his life.
In 1978, Zohar began a long diplomatic career, during which he worked in many posts in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic missions in countries as diverse as the United States, Canada, Thailand, Cambodia and the Netherlands, as well as chargé de affairs in Belarus, Nigeria, New Zealand and Australia. Gershon Zohar was appointed Israel’s ambassador to Poland in 1993. “This diplomatic assignment was exceptional,” says Zohar, “I returned to Warsaw after 36 years, still bearing in mind the city that was rebuilding itself from the ruins of World War II at the time of my departure.” The situation in Poland in the 1990s was also exceptional. The Israeli ambassador witnesses the first decade of Polish freedom, with all its highlights and shadows, only three years after the resumption of diplomatic relations between Poland and Israel in 1990, which were broken in 1967.
“Poles and Jews should not only be aware of the history of their countries, but also know what their nations have in common,” claims the Ambassador. The post-war fortunes of both countries are one of the examples of our common history. “As Poland was gradually rising and rebuilding after the trauma of World War II, the state of Israel was being formed largely thanks to the Polish-Jewish community, basing on its vast, versatile heritage, including socio-political.”
The Ambassador’s tenure in Poland coincided with the opening of the country to the world after 1989. It was all about signing economic agreements, meetings between representatives of various industries from Poland and Israel, promotion of cooperation in the field of education, technology, cultural exchange … Zohar’s official mission in Poland ended in 1997, when he transferred his duties of the Israeli ambassador to Thailand and Cambodia, among other destinations. Despite this, Gershon Zohar is still earnestly involved in creating bonds between Poland and Israel, making the most of his musical passion and constant commitment to connecting the musical worlds of both nations. He is constantly active in the Association of Friends of Israel Camerata Jerusalem, recognised as one of the best chamber orchestras in the world.
In November 2020, during the “Musical Bridges Festival” organised on-line in cooperation between Israel Camerata Jerusalem, the Ludwig van Beethoven Association and the Polish Ministry of Culture, Zohar said: “During the difficult time of the pandemic, rich and diverse contacts between Israel and Poland continue to be nurtured, reflecting the wide range of our relationships. We celebrated together the anniversary of Poland regaining independence, thirtieth anniversary of the resumption of relations between our countries, and the eighty-sixth birthday of the outstanding composer, maestro Krzysztof Penderecki.
While the ongoing pandemic affects our musical contacts and bridges that are being built between us, our excellent chamber orchestra reaches for the Polish repertoire, at the same time expressing and emphasising the solid mutual ties in the field of music. ” In this way Gershon Zohar builds musical ties between Poland and Israel, creating new projects and connecting people. And his diplomatic mission continues.
“During the difficult time of the pandemic, rich and diverse contacts between Israel and Poland continue to be nurtured, reflecting the wide range of our relationships. We celebrated together the anniversary of Poland regaining independence, thirtieth anniversary of the resumption of relations between our countries, and the eighty-sixth birthday of the outstanding composer, maestro Krzysztof Penderecki.”