Rabbi Yehuda Amital, founder and former head of the Har Etzion Yeshiva, passed away overnight Thursday at the age of 85. Amital was one of religious Zionism's foremost leaders and educators, whose moderate political approach led him to found the Meimad movement in 1988.

Born in Romania, Amital survived the Holocaust in a labor camp and in 1944 arrived in Palestine. He received rabbinical ordination at the Hebron Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and eventually moved to Rehovot to further his studies at the Kletzk Yeshiva.

Amital fought in the Independence War as a member of the Hagana. In the years following, Amital worked at the Rehovot rabbinical court and in the local Yeshivat Hadarom.

After the Six Day War, Amital founded the Har Etzion hesder Yeshiva in Kfar Etzion, from where it eventually moved to Alon Shvut, and served as its head. In 1971 Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein joined Amital as a second Rosh Yeshiva.

In the wake of tensions in Israeli society following Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination in 1995, Amital was appointed as minister without a portfolio, and served in the cabinet till 1996.

Amital officially stepped down as head of the Har Etzion Yeshiva in 2008.

The funeral procession for Rabbi Amital was scheduled to take place at noon on Friday.  The procession will lead from the Shamgar funeral home to the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger