As a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and the creator of the world’s most famous equation, Albert Einstein had an impressive resume. But there was one notable title he turned down: President of Israel.
Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann, said that Einstein was “the greatest Jew alive.” So, upon Weizmann’s death on November 9, 1952, only one successor seemed a natural fit.
As such, the Embassy of Israel sent a letter to Einstein on November 17, officially offering him the presidency.
He would have to move to Israel, the letter said, but he wouldn’t have to worry about the job being a distraction from his other interests. It was just the presidency, after all.
However, Einstein turned the offer down, insisting that he – the man whose last name is synonymous with “genius” – was not qualified. He also cited old age, inexperience, and insufficient people skills as reasons why he wouldn’t be a good choice. (Imagine, someone turning down a presidency based on a lack of experience, old age, and an inability to deal properly with people.)
“All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions,” he wrote.
Though he was resolute in his decision, Einstein hoped it wouldn’t reflect badly on his relationship with thcommunitye Jewish – a connection he called his “strongest human bond.”