TEL AVIV — Lyubov Razdolakaya and Eduard Gedalin, world-class theoretical physicists, immigrated to Israel from Georgia seeking a better future.
Any future the husband and wife of nearly 50 years had left together came to a halt on Feb. 4 in the desert town of Dimona.
Razdolakaya, 73, was killed when a suicide bomber exploded near her. Gedalin, 74, was wounded critically and is in grave condition in Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva, not far from the lab at the university where they worked together.
Razdolakaya was buried Feb. 5.
When the bomber struck, the couple were on their way to the bank, pausing outside one of the shops in the town’s centre to take in the warm sun.
Despite their contributions to the field of particle physics, they were relatively anonymous in their transplanted home.
In the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, Razdolakaya and Gedalin worked in collaboration at the Institute for Theoretical Physics co-authoring important articles.
“He developed the formulas, she coded, entered the input into the computer and got the output,” said Amnon Moalem, a physics professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev who hired the couple to work at his lab.
At Ben-Gurion, they studied subatomic particles known as mesons. “Their contribution to research was very significant,” Moalem was quoted as saying in Israeli newspapers.
Of Gedalin he said, “Eduard was one of the greatest physicists I had the honour of working with.” Moalem said Gedalin “could feel abstract things with his fingers.”
The couple came to Israel as part of the major wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s.
After arriving, they joined the Ben-Gurion University program for immigrant scientists, but few knew of the pair’s significant achievements in their field.
One son, Michael Gedalin, is a professor of physics at Ben-Gurion University. Another, Konstantin Gedalin, is a physicst who works in high tech.
Moalem wished the couple had found a softer landing in Israel.
“A scientist of Eduard’s stature could have been a very prominent researcher,” Moalem said, “but he came to a barren place that didn’t meet the standards of the research institutions he came from.”