JERUSALEM (Aug. 22)
Rabbi Kalman Kahana, one of the last surviving signers of Israel’s proclamation of independence in 1948, was buried here Wednesday.
A longtime leader of the Poalei Agudat Yisrael party and a widely respected Talmudic scholar, he died in Jerusalem this week at the age of 82.
Kahana, scion of a family of rabbis, was born in Lvov, in what was then Poland, and was educated at the Berlin rabbinical seminary in Germany, where he was a favored disciple of the seminary’s Talmudic luminary, Rabbi Yehiel Weinberg.
After settling in Palestine in 1938, Kahana studied under the “Hazon Ish,” Rabbi Yeshayahu Karelitz of Bnei Brak, the foremost scholar of the strictly Orthodox community in Palestine at that time.
Kahana was a founding member of the Poalei Agudat Yisrael Kibbutz Chofetz Chaim, in the northern Negev, and served for many years as its rabbi.
He also served as a member of the Knesset from 1949 to 1974 and was deputy minister of education in several Labor-led governments from 1962 through 1969.
Throughout that period, he continued his Talmudic studies and research. He published several scholarly works, particularly in the area of “mitzvot hatluyot ba’aretz” — laws applying to agricultural life in Israel.
After retiring from politics in 1981, Kahana founded a scholarly institute in Jerusalem devoted to the same area of Jewish law.
The Poalei Agudat Yisrael party has since merged with Agudat Yisrael and is represented in the Knesset by Avraham Verdiger.