Israeli lawmaker dies at 58

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jerusalem (jps) | Knesset member Yuri Shtern, who died Tuesday, Jan. 16 at age 58 after a protracted battle with cancer, was buried that afternoon in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul cemetery.

“Yuri Shtern fought for Israel when he was in Russia, and never stopped fighting for it after he made aliyah,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said of the late Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset member in a statement Tuesday, Jan. 16.

“Yuri was a cultured, educated man with deep roots in Judaism and Jewish heritage. He had uncompromising political views combined with unusual social sensitivity,” Olmert’s statement continued.

Shtern, who held a doctorate in economics, was born in Moscow and made aliyah in 1981. He began his political career in former Likud Knesset member Natan Sharansky’s Yisrael B’Aliyah party.

In 1999, when Avigdor Lieberman founded Yisrael Beiteinu, Shtern joined the party. A staunch advocate of aliyah, Shtern was the founder of the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus, a group dedicated to coalescing support for Israel among Christian groups, particularly evangelicals.

Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik issued a statement saying, “Yuri Shtern symbolized, for me, the Zionist oleh who settles into life in Israel and becomes part of the legislative activity. He was modest, direct and respectful of others.”

On Monday, Jan. 15, due to his illness, Shtern was forced to miss for the first time a major event of the Christian Allies Caucus.

The empty place on Israel Beitenu’s Knesset list will be filled by Dudu Rotem, an attorney for the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

Shtern is survived by his wife and two children.