Technion and Amos Horev: A Love Story

Celebrating Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amos Horev’s 90th Birthday

June 2014: Amos Horev (2nd from left) dances with his son, Yehiam, at Technion's celebratory event in honor of his 90th birthday

By Amos Levav

In October 1947, following several years of service, the young Palmach commander Amos Horev began his studies in mechanical engineering at the Technion; but immediately thereafter, on November 29, he was summoned back to the line of duty to fight in the War of Independence. His name appeared on the Technion list of "evaders." "They thought I ran away from school," he laughs.

By late December 1949, Horev, now Chief of Operations on the southern front under Yigal Allon and later Moshe Dayan, was sent by the army to MIT to study mechanical engineering. In close to three years of intense, uninterrupted study, Horev earned both a Bachelor of Science and a Master's degree. He promptly returned to Israel where he took on the role, sequentially, of Chief of Ordnance, Logistics, and Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Defense (MOD).

On October 1, 1973, Amos Horev was installed as president of the Technion. One week later, the Yom Kippur War broke out and Horev again returned to military service to assist Gen. Israel Tal, Deputy Chief of Staff. Only one month later, he resumed his Technion post. Since then, he says, "It's a love story."

After nine years of service in that office, President Horev passed the baton to the late Prof. Josef Singer. At the swearing-in ceremony for the new president, Horev spoke of the country's future needs and the Technion's role in its fulfillment. In what seem now prophetic words, he talked of the importance of computerization in a day when no one had yet heard of an internet. He spoke about modern medicine and medical devices, interdisciplinary frameworks, international agreements, increasing the built-up area of the Technion, student welfare, and improving the quality of life on campus and of alumni relations.

Now Amos Horev turned to other directions: he served as chairman of government committees concerning issues of national importance; numerous Boards of Directors including, inter alia, Chairman of the Board of Rafael, the weapons systems development arm of the MOD. He participated in the "start-up" of several companies. From his retirement as president of the Technion, Horev served as Chairman of the Israel Technion Society (ITS). He remains a member of Technion Council and Vice Chairman of the Technion International Board of Governors. He offers the benefit of his years and wisdom to those presidents who have succeeded him. Horev came daily to the ITS office, housed in an old apartment in Tel Aviv with its small and dedicated staff, and there worked for the Technion he loves so much. With his boundless energy and his own special charm, during his term in office the ITS raised about a billion shekels ($280 m.).

Horev's legacy has left a deep imprint on every aspect of the campus. His profound concern for students and their welfare as well as his intuitive understanding and vision of the future of Israel and Technion's role in it, and his unprecedented success with donors have resulted in tangible faculty buildings, labs, dorms, and facilities such as the swimming pool and the ecological garden, in addition to numerous scholarships, prizes, and like benefits. And not the least of his accomplishments is further elevating the worldwide recognition of the Technion as a world-class institution for technical education.

In July 2011, Amos Horev received the Israel Defense Prize for Lifetime Achievement, a recognition he might appropriately have been awarded many years earlier.

Shoshana and Amos Horev have a son (a Technion graduate) and a daughter, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The family farm produces quality olive oil.

In 2014, after 75 years of a massive contribution to the country and decades of devotion to the Technion, and as he celebrates his 90th birthday, Technion can say, “Yes, Amos, it is indeed a love story - and it is mutual.”

Adapted from the original that appeared in Hebrew in HaTechnion, Summer 2014.