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Rabbi Avraham Shapira, 96

Avraham Shapira, a leader of Israel’s religious Zionist movement and a former Ashkenazi chief rabbi, died.

Shapira, a who passed away Saturday after an illness, was among the founders of Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem, the seedbed of religious Zionism.

He served as Ashkenazi chief rabbi between 1983 and 1993. But Shapira then became a vocal critic of the government’s interim peace accords with the Palestinians, forming a coalition known as “Union of Rabbis for the Land of Israel”. His opposition to ceding land to the Palestinians continued into 2005, when Shapira issed edicts against Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger called Shapira’s passing “a huge loss for religious Zionism”.

Shapira was to be laid to rest Friday morning on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.

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