Israeli scholar Yehuda Elkana

by | Oct 5, 2012 | Obituaries

Israeli scholar Yehuda Elkana, an Auschwitz survivor who headed the Central European University, died at the age of 78.

The Budapest university said Elkana died in Jerusalem on Sept. 21 following a battle with cancer. He served as its president and rector from 1999 to 2009.

The statement called Elkana an academic pioneer who had led the Central European University for nearly half the life of the university.

“I want to express my deepest appreciation for all he accomplished,” said George Soros, the university’s founder and honorary chairman. “I admire the courage with which he faced his illness and, eventually, his death.”

Born in Subotica in what was then Yugoslavia, Elkana and his family were deported to Auschwitz in 1944 but survived. He immigrated to Israel in 1948.

Elkana was a historian and philosopher of science who served as director of both the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute from 1968 to 1993 and the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University from 1981 to 1991, and held other senior academic positions. He also taught at Harvard University and served as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and a visiting fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.