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November 30, 1984 - Image 54

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-11-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Left: Dr. Chaim Weizmann speaking at the dedication in 1934 of the Daniel Sieff Research Institute (right).

A

ceremony
filled
with
hope

Keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony: Nobel Laureate R. Willstatter.

...THE afternoon was bright, cold
and windy. The Zionist colours and
the Union Jack fluttered on twin
flagpoles outside the new building
which rose, gleaming white, from
the sands. On an outdoor platform,
its latticed back-frame threaded with
leaves and flowers, sat a galaxy of
official and civic dignitaries.
With Dr. Weizmann, who pres-
ided, were his wife Vera and his
mother Rachel Weizmann. The High
Commissioner of Palestine, General
Sir Arthur Wauchope, was one of
the two guests of honour. The other
was Prof. Richard Willstatter, a Ger-
man Nobel Laureate and one of the
great scientists of his day, although
already looked upon with disfavour
by the young Nazi regime. As Weiz-
mann's guide and mentor, he had
given sound advice on the new insti-
tute's research plans.
Also, there was Weizmann's inti-
mate friend Chaim Nachman Bialik,
poet laureate of the Hebrew lan-
guage, Nahum Sokolow, who had
succeeded Weizmann in 1931 as
president of the World Zionist Orga-
nization, Dr. Arthur Ruppin, Col.
Frederick Kisch, and many other
Zionist leaders. The donor families
were represented by Simon and
Miriam (later Lord and Lady)
Marks; Mr. and Mrs. Harry Sacher;
the young Marcus (later Lord) Sieff
— his parents, Israel and Rebecca
Sieff, having been unable to attend.
And there was Blanche Dugdale,
Lord Balfour's niece and biog-
rapher.
The keynote of the ceremony was
Willstatter's address. It was a re-
markable summation of the history
of modern chemistry and the aims
set by its founders — and a masterly
blueprint for the future. He gave
sage advice to those whom he was
pleased to call "my colleagues of this
Institute who begin their work
tomorrow:
"First," he said, "concern
yourselves with, and investigate, the
products of this country; but their
analysis is not enough. Analysis
must lead to synthesis. And the
concept 'synthesis' seems today to
offer a new significance. Once it
merely meant the inversion of analy-
sis and its verification. Now synth-
esis plays a far greater role. One of
the greatest scholars who ever lived —
Leibnitz — said: 'Thoughts do not
come of themselves to my mind; only

when I am shown things, or when I
am told of ideas, do new, even
better, thoughts readily come to
me'...
"Secondly," he went on, "I want
to advise you not to limit yourselves
to practical aims alone. Set yourself,
in your researches, scientific objec-
tives such as may change the very
basis of research and of science it-
self. Research of this kind generally
promises more important results
than mere practical research.
"The- English scientist, Lord
Rayleigh, the uncle of Mrs. Dug-
dale, whom we are glad to see with
us today, -the discoverer of the rare
gas argon, never dreamt that his
discovery would, at a later date, be
so valuable in industry. He could not
foresee that electric lamp globes
would be filled with argon.
"My late colleague, Roentgen,
the discoverer of X-rays, could hard-
ly have foreseen the blessing which
his discovery was to bring, and, with
his peculiar shyness, kept in the
background while the practical de-
velopments of his discovery were
being pursued. Heinrich Hertz, too,
was far from suspecting the revolu-
tion which his discovery of electro-
magnetic waves was to cause in tech-
nical physics with radio and wire-
less."
And, "Thirdly: Seek not to multi-
ply your works, not to write many
papers! Non multa — multum. I ask
the people of this country: have faith
in this Institute: do not expect showy
or speedy results. The members of
this Institute must work as free re-
searchers, furnished with fully
adequate means, in an atmosphere
of absolute confidence.
"May I mention here that my
great friend, Dr. Weizmann, who
has devoted the better part of his life
to this country and its upbuilding,
has at the same time nevertheless
continued and pressed forward in his
research work. He has been unable,
of course, to compete with us in
quantity of work, in number of pap-
ers. But how willingly would I ex-
change 100 researches of mine for
one particular piece of work of his!"
Prophetically he ended: "Over the
gates of his Institute I see written:
Work for this country, work for
Science, work for Humanity."
Simon Marks spoke, too. Among
other things he said: "This Institute
is a memorial to Daniel Chaim Sieff,

the son of Mr. and Mrs. Israel Sieff,
and our nephew. He was to have
come to Palestine just a year ago to
continue his studies. In his short life
he had acquired a scientific outlook
and had planned for himself such a
career as this Institute might have
afforded him. He was taken from us
at a very early age. We are grateful
to know that his name will forever be
associated with the scientific up-
building of the country. He would
have wished for nothing better."
Next spoke his brother-in-law,
Harry Sacher, who said, in part:
"The particular tasks with which this
Institute will grapple will be deter-
mined by the nature of its equip
ment, the needs of. Palestine, and the
necessity of preserving the freedom
of the researcher and of research. A
scientific institute which pursued
strictly practical or economic ends
would be mutilated. We believe that
in the program of work drawn up for
the Daniel Sieff Research Institute a
proper balance has been achieved of
the practical and the theoretical."
It was a ceremony filled with
hope; for the just-born Insti-
tute and for the community into
whose charge the Institute had been
placed. Perhaps the most vivid com-
mentary on the Sieff Institute's pros-
pects, as they appeared then to its
founders, was made by Weizmann
himself. In Trial and Error, he recal-
led a conversation in Paris in 1933,
with two celebrated German-Jewish -
scientists, Professors Willstatter and
Haber. Dr. E.D. Bergmann, who
was to be the Sieff Institute's first
director, was also present at the
meeting.
Weizmann wrote: "He (Berg-
mann) developed before them his
plans for work in the Institute which
was then nearing completion. The
two eminent scientists listened very
attentively, and then Willstatter
asked me ironically: 'How many
floors has the Daniel Sieff Institute?'
To which I replied: 'As far as I know
it will have two.'
" ',Well,' said Willstatter, 'you had_.
.better build a skyscraper if you wish
to carry out the program Bergmann
has outlined.' "
That "skyscraper" has since been
built, if not vertically, then horizon-
tally.
Excerpt from an article by Julian L. _
Meltzer, printed in Rehovot, the Weiz-
mann Institute's periodical.

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