Yaakov Dori (1899-1973)

Yaakov Dori

Yaakov Dori was Chief of Staff of the Haganah and was later appointed the first Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Born in the present day Ukraine as Yakov Dostrovsky, son of Tzvi and Myriam, his family emigrated to Ottoman Palestine following the anti-Jewish pogrom in Odessa in 1905. Upon completing high school at the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa, he enlisted in the Jewish Legion of the British Army during World War I. He later joined the Haganah and adopted the underground name of “Dan”. In Haganah he was the commander of the Haganah Forces of Haifa.

In 1939, Dori was appointed Chief of Staff of the Haganah, a position he held until 1946. As CoS Haganah it was Yaakov Dori’s duty to take the Haganah from a diffuse self defense organisation to a model army. From 1946 to 1947 he also headed the Palestinian Jewish delegation sent to purchase arms in the United States.

When the IDF was formed, Dori took over as its first Chief of Staff. Yet, despite his good command and organizational skills, he was already suffering from failing health, and had difficulty commanding his troops during Israel’s War of Independence, and was forced to rely heavily on his deputy, Yigael Yadin. He completed his term as Chief of Staff on November 9, 1949 and retired from the military. He was succeeded by his deputy, Yadin. Even after his release from the army, however, he continued to wear the officer’s pin he was awarded when he first became a second lieutenant.

Upon leaving the IDF, Dori was appointed chairman of the Science Council, attached to the Prime Minister’s office. He was later made president of the Technion in Haifa, a position he held until 1965.

Yaacov Dori was since 1929 married to the teacher Badana, born Pintov, from the locality Kurenetz in Ucraina. His son, Yerachmiel Dori, served as commander of the IDF’s Engineering Corps. His daughter, Etana Padan, is biochemist , professor of microbial ecology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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