Former minister and Knesset member Yossi Sarid passed away on Friday at the age of 75. Sarid, who was born in Rehovot in 1940 to Yaakov Sarid, who served as director general of the Education Ministry, and Doba Sarid, a teacher, began his political career as an aide to prime minister Levi Eshkol. He was a member of nine Knessets between 1974 and 2006, serving as a lawmaker for the Alignment, Ratz and Meretz parties. Sarid chaired Meretz from 1996 until 2003. During the 15th Knesset, he was the leader of the opposition.

Sarid, who was a reporter for Israel Radio and Davar before he entered politics, served as environmental protection and education minister in the Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak administrations.

During his term in the Knesset, Sarid was a member of various committees, including the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the Education and Culture Committee, the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee for the Events that Took Place in Amona, the Subcommittee for Examination of the Draft Exemption of Yeshiva Students, the Subcommittee on the Election of Austrian President Kurt Waldheim. During his term as a Knesset member, Sarid also taught civil studies in Kiryat Shmona and Sderot.

After quitting politics in 2006, he began writing columns for the Haaretz daily. He also wrote poetry, publishing six books in the genre. Sarid is survived by his wife, Dorit, and their three children.

Meretz leader Zehava Galon eulogized her former colleague in a Facebook post Friday night.

”Yossi Sarid, my friend and mentor, is gone. The greatest lover of Israel and Israelis, his death is a tremendous loss for me and a heavy loss for the entire country,” she wrote.

”Yossi has been my friend since 1984, when he left Labor and we became partners in party and path. He was a guide, a beacon of morality and responsibility, who always knew his unique Hebrew how to articulate in a clear, consistent and fearless voice.

”In his personality and actions, Yossi Sarid represented the finest character of the State of Israel: educating, democratic, secular, peaceful and striving for equality and love. He made this country better in every role he took, and I am committed to continue along his path and values.”

Meretz Knesset faction chair Ilan Gilon said Sarid will ”always be remembered as the man who made an indelible mark on education in Israel. After his political career, he became a journalist and man of letters of razor — sharp tongue and pure voice, loyal to the values of humanism, human rights and peace. His image will forever be etched in our hearts.”