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(photo credit: Courtesy)
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.”
attended the funeral Friday afternoon of Amital, who died overnight Thursday at
the age of 85, at the Har Hamenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem.
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
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.
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
Defense Minister Ehud Barak called Amital a “groundbreaker”
who gave his thousands of students a moral Zionist education and
them a love of Israel and appreciation of army service.
Etzion Hesder Yeshiva was characterized by “openness and tolerance for
different opinions and values of the Israeli people,” Barak added.
in Romania, Amital survived the Holocaust in a labor camp, and in 1944
in Mandatory Palestine, where he changed his last name from Klein. He
rabbinical ordination at the Hebron Yeshiva in Jerusalem and eventually
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
the Rehovot rabbinical court and in the local Yeshivat Hadarom.
Six Day War, Amital founded the Har Etzion Hesder Yeshiva in Kfar
where it eventually moved to Alon Shvut, and served as its head. In
Aharon Lichtenstein joined Amital as a second rosh yeshiva. Amital
stepped down as head of the yeshiva in 2008.
He is survived by his wife,
Miriam, their five children, and many grandchildren and great