Israels longest-serving Knesset member dies at 90

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Burg, who for many seemed to embody the religious Zionist ideal of serving as a bridge between the religious and secular worlds, was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1909. He earned a doctorate from the University of Leipzig and rabbinical ordination from the Berlin Rabbinic Seminary.

During his nearly 40 years in the Knesset, he served as deputy speaker of the Knesset and headed several cabinet ministries. He was the longest serving member of Knesset — from the first Knesset until the 11th Knesset. He served continuously until 1987 when, at almost 80, he stepped down.

He passed on his aptitude for politics to his son, Avraham, a member of the Labor Party who is currently speaker of the Knesset.

During his youth, Burg was active in the Mizrahi Movement and in the Union of Religious Pioneers. He was a leader of Youth Aliya and a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Office in Berlin.

In November 1938, on Kristallnacht, Burg's landlady saved him from arrest by the Gestapo, and he came to Israel the following spring on a student visa. Three months later he returned to Germany to continue his Youth Aliya and rescue work there.

He returned to Israel in 1940 and settled in Tel Aviv, where he taught Talmud and history at the Gymnasia Herzliya.

At the end of World War II, Burg went to France and became director of the Paris-based Central European section of Mizrahi and Hapoel Mizrahi, which aided Holocaust survivors and established institutions for homeless Jewish children. Among his responsibilities was to seek out Jewish children who were either adopted or hidden during the war.

He returned to Israel in 1949 as a leader of the National Religious Party and was elected to the first Knesset.