Courtesy of JTA. Photo credit:Yael Ariel-Goldschmidt
Aharon Ariel was a Jerusalem-born scholar and journalist who fought in Israel’s War of Independence; at right, Ariel with his granddaughter Yael Ariel-Goldschmidt

(JTA) — “My grandfather was a true son of Jerusalem,” a granddaughter, Tamar Ariel, wrote in a tribute posted shortly after his death. “Born just outside of Jerusalem in the Palestinian Mandate in 1925, the youngest of 6, and raised on King George St., he was a scholar and lover of Hebrew, history, and Jerusalem.“

Aharon Ariel worked as a journalist whose assignments, according to his granddaughter, included the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. He worked as editor of the “Encyclopedia Hebraica,” a monumental reference work issued between 1949 and 1983. His books include a historical lexicon, written with the historian Joshua Prawer in 1964, and a translation of “Annals of England” (1968) by the British historian George Macaulay Trevelyan.

He studied mathematics at Hebrew University before, in 1947, he went to New York City for his graduate studies.

After the war he worked as a Hebrew teacher whose students included an American immigrant named Batya (Betty) Cohen, who had been raised on New York’s Lower East Side and came to Israel as a member of Hashomer Hatzair, the socialist Zionist youth group. The two married in 1951 in the United States, where Batya had returned for graduate studies, and returned to Israel to live. Batya died in 2021.

“He was a connoisseur of whiskey, art, pescatarian food, and coffee,” wrote Tamar Ariel. “He and my grandmother introduced me to Impressionism, taking me to art museums across Israel, the U.S., and Europe from a young age.”

He could also expound on the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud and the history of the country whose biography parallelled his own.

“My grandfather was a walking encyclopedia,” wrote Ariel-Goldschmidt.