Prof. Yona Oren - Obituary

updated: 26.07.2020


Yona Oren, Professor Emeritus



Yona Oren was born on 18th of April, 1934 in the town of Rowno (Rivne) then in Poland (today in Ukraine) with the name Yona Chwojnik. He was the only son of parents who were born in Ruzhany in northeastern Poland (Russia when he was born, today it is in Belarus). His father, Menachem (Mendel Mieczyslaw) Oren, received his doctorate in Physics from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and at the same time played chess – he was the first Chess Champion of the State of Israel. In Israel he was a Physics teacher at the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium in Tel Aviv, and one of the founders of the High School Teacher’s Association. Yona’s mother, Dr. Esther (Etia) Oren, née Pines, studied Medicine at the University of Vilnius and worked her whole life as a pediatrician.


On June 23, 1941, when the Germans attacked the Soviet Union and approached Rowno, Yona’s family fled eastwards. After several weeks of wandering, they came to a small town called Melekes, about 90 kilometers east of the Volga river, where they spent almost five years under harsh conditions.


After the war ended they first wandered back to Poland, and later through the Czech Republic and Austria to Germany. Yona attended the Hebrew school run by the Joint, and due to the Hebrew he learned there, he was not categorized as a “new immigrant” when he arrived in Israel.


On July 15, 1949, Yona, his parents, and his grandmother Dora arrived in Israel, and Yona enrolled in the 10th grade at the Gymnasia Herzliya. In 1950, the family changed their name to Oren. Yona continued to study Physics at the Technion in Haifa, where he met Miriam Lipkin, whom he married in August 1956 (7th of Elul 5716).


His Ph.D. thesis, which he completed in 1962 under the supervision of Prof. Kurt Siete, concerned the measurement and analysis of cosmic ray showers by studying the associated Cherenkov radiation.


In 1963 Yona started his first postdoc position at Brookhaven National Laboratories, Long Island, where he spent two years. While at Brookhaven he was a member of the experimental group that discovered the particle Omega-minus, whose existence had been predicted previously, by the theoreticians Yuval Ne’eman (Tel Aviv University) and Murray Gell-Mann (Caltech). In 1965 Yona joined the Goldhaber-Trilling group at U.C. Berkley, for his second post-doc position as a visiting lecturer.


In 1966 Yona joined the faculty at Tel Aviv University, being the first experimentalist recruited in the area of High Energy Particle Physics. He laid the foundations for equipping the laboratory for analyzing bubble chamber photographs of experiments carried out at CERN (Geneva). During his long career at TAU Yona was an active member of many experimental collaborations at CERN. He spent Sabbatical leaves at Argonne, Syracuse, and Imperial College, London. He taught many undergraduate courses and laboratories at TAU and was held in high regards by his students. He will be remembered by his colleagues as a kind and resourceful physicist, who cared and was always prepared to help others.


Yona and Miriam have two children, Yael and Hemi (Menachem), and six grandchildren.


Family and Colleagues


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