Prof. Nahum Kristianpoller - Obituary

updated: 17.06.2018


I met Nahum at the Hebrew University, when he worked in the physics department, and I was an undergraduate student. I was very impressed by his warm personality, his teaching style, his humor and the broad European culture in which he was blessed. He recognized and cherished my late father Aharon, which strengthened our connection.


I then did my Master's work with Prof. Many. Nahum worked at the end of the hall and I had the privilege of talking to Nahum and getting ideas from him. Nahum's supervisor was Prof. Halperin and the subject of his work was dosimetry. This is the measurement of a radiation dose to which a crystal attached to the clothing of doctors and technicians working with X-rays is exposed, especially cardiologists. With the help of these crystals it is possible to make sure that the doctor has not absorbed too much radiation. This is an area of ​​great importance in medical uses. Nahum continued to work in Prof. Halperin's lab several years after receiving his doctorate. In my doctoral studies I also worked in close fields at the Soreq Nuclear Research Center. Every time I went to Jerusalem to Prof. Halperin, who also guided me, I liked to meet Nahum, because the conversations with him always strengthened me.


I was pleased to learn that Nahum moved to the School of Physics and Astronomy at Tel Aviv University, and continued his research. When I returned from a post-doctoral post in the United States, I also joined Tel Aviv University, and our laboratories were on the same floor. I continued the long-standing dialogue in the field of science.


As one of the founders of the School of Physics and Astronomy, he continued to publish important studies in the field of dosimetry. Nahum made a mark in the School of Physics: in scientific research, in his special way in teaching and in establishing the teaching laboratories of experimental physicists for the future.


Once I dared to ask him how he, a religious Jew from a family of rabbis, was using a Christian family name. If I am not mistaken, he explained to me first that there is a family tree that goes to Rashi. He added that the source of the name is a small town Kristianpol in Poland, from which his family came. People who lived there were often caller Kristianpoller. Because his parents perished in the Holocaust he decided to preserve the name of the town, Kristianpol "There may be people who managed to escape from there and look for relatives in the country," he replied. "If any of them comes to Israel, my family name will bring them to me so that they can connect with the town and those who remained alive."


The terrible disaster in which his wife Bracha was killed, was a tremendous jolt for him. He talked to me about it many times. During the mourners' visit to his son Alexander's house. Nahum stood next to a wall full of books, holy books, and in a flash I saw what he had imparted to his sons: the love of Jewish literature, knowledge and culture. I was very excited when Alexander came up to me and took out among the holy books the book "In the Crucible of Revolution" written by my father. Alexander told me that he was religious but he was not ignorant and that he was highly affected by the book.  My parents' house and my wife's parents' house also had walls full of books, and so it is now in my house too. This fact deepened my appreciation for Nahum and his family.


The connection between us continued even when I retired, and I moved to share an office with Reuven Chen who also was one of Nahum's friends.  Reuven was also one of the students of Prof. Halperin, and he is still engaged in the field of dosimetry. When Nahum came to us, the conversations were also very illuminating and reminded us our student's days. Despite the hardships he had experienced in his life, optimism characterized him most. His spirit remained strong even when he was physically handicapped. The last time we met, a few weeks ago, he proudly told me that Hitler had not succeeded in destroying his family; he had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren who gave him warmth and love, and there was nothing like a loving family with many children.


I have known Nahum for more than fifty-five years, who was one of the people closest to me at the School of Physics and Astronomy: a teacher, a supportive colleague, and a source of inspiration. I will always miss him.


May his memory be blessed.


Abraham Katzir


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