PM: Rabbi Amital loved peace

One of religious Zionism’s foremost educators buried in capital

July 11, 2010 00:44
2 minute read.
Rabbi Yehuda Amital

rav amital 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday eulogized the founder of the dovish Meimad movement and the Har Etzion Hesder Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehuda Amital, as a lover of peace who should serve as “an example to all of us.”

Thousands attended the funeral Friday afternoon of Amital, who died overnight Thursday at the age of 85, at the Har Hamenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem.

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“Rabbi Amital, who also fought in the War of Independence, was an example to all of us for his love of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “A lover of peace, a follower of peace who loved all of humanity and sought to bring them closer to the Torah.”

Amital was one of religious Zionism’s foremost leaders and educators, whose moderate political approach led him to establish Meimad in 1988. His Har Etzion Hesder Yeshiva is the flagship of moderate religious Zionist yeshivot, drawing hundreds of students from abroad yearly.

Amid heightened tensions in Israeli society following prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995, Amital was appointed minister- without-portfolio. He served in the cabinet until 1996.

President Shimon Peres, who appointed Amital a minister in 1995, sent his condolences to the rabbi’s family, in a statement released on Friday.

Peres called Amital “a lover of mankind” who “served as an example for the nation and inspired belief in people as a soldier, as a yeshiva leader, as a minister in the Israeli government and as a statesman.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak called Amital a “groundbreaker” who gave his thousands of students a moral Zionist education and instilled in them a love of Israel and appreciation of army service.

Amital’s Har Etzion Hesder Yeshiva was characterized by “openness and tolerance for the different opinions and values of the Israeli people,” Barak added.

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

He fought in the Independence War as a member of the Hagana. In the years following, he 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. Amital officially stepped down as head of the yeshiva in 2008.

He is survived by his wife, Miriam, their five children, and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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