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Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook Dead at 91

Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, spiritual leader of the Gush Emunim movement and son of Israel’s first Chief Rabbi, Avraham Yitzhak Haconen Kook, died here today at the age of 91. He was buried at the Mount of Olives cemetery.

Kook, head of the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem founded by his father, was spiritual mentor to many thousands of young Israelis in the Greater Israel Movement.

In a statement of mourning, Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren termed him a “Crown of Torah scholarship” and “the champion of the fighters for Eretz Israel and its integrity.” Rabbi Haim Druckman, a Gush Emunim leader and one of Kook’s closest collaborators, said he had been a major influence on the spiritual lives and world outlook of “literally tens of thousands of our people.”

There was a certain symbolism in Kook’s death, coming just as his most ardent followers were facing their most trying moments — against army units sent to evacuate them from the Rafah region of Sinai. Leaders of the Stop the Withdrawal Movement, among them MK Geula Cohen, tried to prevent a mass exodus from the region today as hundreds of youngsters left for Jerusalem to attend Kook’s funeral.

The movement leaders tried to organize a small delegation of Rafah region residents and their sympathizers to attend the funeral and to represent the others, who would remain in the region to face and, if possible to thwart army evacuation attempts.

Kook was a long-time supporter of the Young Guard section of the National Religious Party, headed by Zevulun Hammer and Yehuda Ben-Meir. But he broke with the party over the Camp David agreements, which he opposed, and also severed relations with Premier Menachem Begin who had visited him and consulted with him periodically before Camp David.

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