Thousands pay last respects to Rabbi Menachem Porush

Former MK and deputy minister dies of cardiac arrest at the age of 94.

By BY GREER FAY CASHMAN
February 22, 2010 15:39
3 minute read.
The funeral of Rabbi Porush in Jerusalem.

porush funeral 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Hostilities in the haredi streets of Jerusalem were temporarily cast aside on Sunday and Monday as thousands flocked to pay their last respects to Agudat Israel leader, former MK and deputy minister for Labor and Social Affairs Rabbi Menachem Porush.

A seventh generation Jerusalemite who was a prominent figure in a dynasty of community activists, Menachem Porush, who was born on April 2, 1916, died on Sunday evening of cardiac arrest. He was buried on Monday at Har Hamenuhot cemetery in Givat Shaul. Several roads were closed by police in anticipation of the enormous funeral procession resulting in heavy traffic congestion.

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Menachem Porush was married twice, and outlived both his wives.

A journalist, public speaker, educator, social welfare administrator, politician, real estate developer and hotelier, Porush, despite his advanced age and his difficulties in walking, continued to be active up until the final moments of his life.

Among those who came to the Porush home in the capital's Pines Street to participate in the purification rites and to accompany the deceased on his final journey was President Shimon Peres who knew Porush well from almost 35 years of working together in the Knesset. Porush served from November 1959 to June 1994, taking a two-year absence from 1975-1977.

Peres said that although Porush's great and compassionate heart had stopped beating, his deeds would remain a lasting legacy.

Peres described him as one of the most energetic and active of Israelis, "always doing, always giving and always helping the needy".

His activities within his own community, said Peres, helped to strengthen the Torah world and to disseminate Jewish heritage to a wider public. He worked diligently towards greater understanding and tolerance between the secular and religious sectors, and he was a faithful servant of his people.

"He was a rare individual, a great Jew and as much a part of Jerusalem as the stones in the Western Wall," said Peres, who also eulogized Porush as a man of vision and hope with regard to the future of the Jewish people. Peres remembered him as a man who was generally pleasant, who lived life to the full, worked towards Jewish unity, was a living bridge between the diverse elements of Judaism, and who in his persona symbolized the State, the People and the Jew.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also eulogized Porush saying: "Rabbi Porush was a pillar of the haredi community. Israel and the Jewish people have lost a dear, wise and warm Jew who loved Israel and was among the best public servants we had."

Educated in Etz Haim Yeshiva, Porush was the son of Rabbi Moshe Glickman-Porush, and in the course of time, followed his father into serving on the Jerusalem City Council, eventually becoming deputy mayor. Of his seven offspring, only one, Meir, followed him into politics, first to the Jerusalem City Council where he also served as his family's third successive deputy mayor, and then to the Knesset, where he also served and continues to serve as a deputy minister.

Although they do take on ministerial responsibilities, members of Agudat Israel never take on a full ministerial positions in case the government should do something which is in violation of Jewish law. As ministers they would be compromised. As non-ministers they are not part of the government's decision-making process and therefore their consciences remain clear.

In 1932, Porush, who was barely 16 at the time, was expelled from Etz Haim for unseemly conduct at a Purim Party, where he allegedly slighted Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who was the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Palestine under the authority of the British Mandate.

The young Porush who had a gift with words went abroad to work for haredi newspapers and returned home in 1938. In 1949 he was appointed assistant editor of the


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