Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, a highly respected figure in the religious-Zionist community and one of the founders of the Jewish settlement in Hebron, passed away Saturday night aged 84.
Waldman was the dean of the Nir Yeshiva in Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hebron, which he founded with Rabbi Moshe Levinger in 1972. He was also one of the founders in 1974 of the Gush Emunim movement which promoted Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), together with other religious-Zionist leaders.
Waldman was born in 1937 in Petah Tikva but moved with his parents to the US when he was just three.
He returned to Israel on the “hachshara” program of the religious-Zionist youth movement Bnei Akiva, and subsequently studied in the flagship Merkaz Harav yeshiva of the sector, under the revered Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook, who would become the spiritual leader of the Gush Emunim movement.
He served as head of Nir Yeshiva for the last 49 years, and was also active politically, and served as an MK for the ultranationalist Tehiya party between 1984 and 1990.
Waldman was politically hardline and signed a letter in 2004 calling on IDF soldiers to refuse to evacuate settlers from the settlements in the Gaza strip.
He also publicly opposed the establishment of the current government, saying it depended for support on “the supporters of terror.”
Numerous figures from the religious-Zionist movement paid tribute to Waldman on Sunday, praising him for his Torah knowledge, and his dedication to the Land of Israel.