Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hacohen Kook.
(photo credit: PUBLIC DOMAIN)
Bayit Yehudi MK Moti Yogev is advancing a bill to establish a national day of commemoration for Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook, the spiritual forefather of religious Zionism, revered rabbi and mystic and founder of the Chief Rabbinate.
The bill says it is designed to impart knowledge of Kook’s work, and to “draw youth and the public closer to the values of Zionism and the Jewish religion” through special study sessions in all public schools, as well as state memorial ceremonies and annual conventions.
Shas is hoping to piggyback on Bayit Yehudi’s bill by advancing their own legislation in tandem for a national day of commemoration for the party’s late spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
, who was a renowned and highly respected rabbi in the Haredi and religious world.
Yogev says his proposal is modeled on commemoration days for other national figures, such as Theodor Herzl and several prime ministers, whose lives’ work are studied and memorialized on those dates.
The bill was submitted to the Knesset on Wednesday and has the backing of several dozen MKs from several parties, including those in the opposition.
Shas’s bill has not yet been submitted to the Knesset, although a similar piece of legislation has been submitted by Shas MK Yoav Ben-Tzur to establish a national institution for the commemoration of Yosef and his life’s work.
There is a tacit agreement between Bayit Yehudi and Shas that they will support each other’s respective bills.
Kook came from the strictly Orthodox world of east European Jewry, studied in the most prestigious institution in that world, the Volozhin Yeshiva, and was highly regarded by leading Orthodox rabbis of his time as one of the most prodigious Torah scholars of his generation.
Unlike many of his contemporary Orthodox rabbis, however, Kook embraced the goal of establishing a sovereign Jewish state in the Land of Israel and saw in secular Zionism the beginning of the spiritual redemption of the Jewish people.
Kook moved from Europe to Jaffa in 1904 where he took up a rabbinical post in the city, later becoming the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Palestine in 1921. He was a prolific author, writing works on Jewish law, thought, and mysticism which are widely read and studied today in the religious Zionist community and its yeshivas.
“The purpose of this law is to bequeath to the generations the vision, legacy, and works of the founder of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the first Chief Rabbi, the great Zionist leader and man of spirituality and good deeds, the great scholar of Torah, Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook, to commemorate him and to educate future generations, and to shape the State of Israel, its institutions, goals and image in accordance with his religious Zionist vision,” reads the description of Yogev’s bill.
The goals of the law will be achieved, it says, through creating a day of memorial for the rabbi on the anniversary of his death, the Hebrew date of 3rd day of Elul, and through various educational activities in state schools, in the IDF, and other institutions around the country.
The memorial day will also include a state ceremony at Kook’s grave on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, a special annual convention to deliberate issues in the Zionist and religious world, and the Knesset will hold a special session.
The Education Ministry will allocate budgets for research into issues connected to Kook’s work and his religious-Zionist vision, and the overall budgets for all of these goals will come from the national budget.
“Rabbi Kook is not the inheritance of just one segment of the population. His image and legacy belong to all the Jewish people, and it is fitting that the entire nation be exposed to the great riches of thought, literature, rulings of Jewish law, and renewal of Jewish life in the legacy of Rabbi Kook,” says the bill.
“The bill is intended to draw youth, and the public as a whole, closer to the values of Zionism and the Jewish religion as part of the process of imparting the Jewish-Israel heritage and commemorating the memory and heritage of the great figures of the nation,” it says.