Dr. Yitzhak Etzion, Pioneer Educator, Dies at 96

Dr. Yitzhak Raphael Etzion (Holzberg), considered one of Israel’s great educators of modern times, has died here at the age of 96. Born in Kovno, Lithuania, where he received his religious education, he went on to study at the University of Kharkov from where he graduated with honors.

After World War I he returned to his native land to accept eventually, a call to what became a daring unheard of undertaking and challenging position. Rabbi Joseph Leib Bloch of Telz had a plan to develop a new system of higher education for Jewish young women, with the opening of a Jewish college where they could study religion and secular topics in Hebrew.

Etzion became the director of the Yavneh teachers training college and girls grammar school in Telz and later initiated similar schools for men and women in Lithuania. In addition to his educational activities, he was a member of the Lithuanian National Assembly. In 1933 he accepted the position as head of the Mizrachi school system in Palestine and eventually became one of the leading figures of Jewish education in Israel.

After World War II two schools based on his principles of education were established in the United States by his European co-workers and former students, Yavneh High School and Yavneh University for girls in Cleveland, Ohio, under the auspices of the Telzer Yeshiva.

Etzion was also the author of numerous works, including “A Collection of Commentaries to the Torah,” “Axiomatics and Principles of Non-Euclidean Geometry,” “The Existence of God as the Principle of Judaism,” “The Great Universe in Which We Live,” “The Study of Problems of Religion,” and “The Theory of Evolution From the Standpoint of Modern Exact Science.”

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