Ya'akov Neeman .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Former justice and finance minister Yaakov Neeman was laid to rest on Monday on the Mount of Olives, after a funeral service at Jerusalem’s Heichal Shlomo synagogue.
Neeman, who was also one of the three founders of one of Israel’s more prestigious law firms – Herzog, Fox and Neeman – died on Sunday at age 77.
Hundreds turned out on Monday to pay their final respects to Neeman, including President Reuven Rivlin, present and former chief rabbis, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Interior Minister Arye Deri, opposition leader Isaac Herzog – whose father founded the law firm alongside Neeman – Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, former justice minister Dan Meridor, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Likud MK Yehudah Glick.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had wanted to attend, but after realizing that the complex security arrangements would interfere with other mourners, he decided to absent himself. However he spoke to Neeman’s widow Hadassah and told her that he could pay a condolence call at the Neeman home in Jerusalem’s Talbiyeh neighborhood.
Rivlin, who was a personal friend of Neeman’s, spoke movingly of Neeman’s intelligence, his wisdom, his love of Israel, his devotion to Jewish learning, his dedication to Torah studies, his fund-raising abilities for charitable causes and his manifold other characteristics and achievements.
“Few people knew that your door was open not only to the elite but also to the dregs of society who you advised to whom you explained, and for whom you made a phone call and used your powers of persuasion,” Rivlin said. Referring to Neeman’s logic and creative thinking imparted to the nation’s leaders, Rivlin continued: “You were the light that was sent in moments of crisis and tension. You were not the attorney general, but you were the greatest of legal advisers to an extraordinary number of people, probably to more prime ministers than anyone else, not to mention ministers and presidents.”
Whenever there was a problem that needed clear, rational thought, Rivlin recalled, everyone looked to Neeman.
Neeman’s daughter, Yael Bar-Shai who is a partner at Herzog, Fox and Neeman, said to her father: “At long last you are resting in tranquility and quiet.”
The sound of tranquility was almost deafening to her because her father had led such a hectic life, and yet for all his professional, pro bono, study, charitable and philanthropic activities, he always had time for his family. Together with his wife he had raised six children and 32 grandchildren with whom he had a special connection despite all the pressures of work.