Rabbi Yehuda Amital, yeshiva founder and Zionist leader, dies

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Thousands came to mourn Rabbi Yehuda Amital, a revered yeshiva head and leader of the moderate camp of religious Zionism.

Amital, the founder and a leader of the Har Etzion hesder yeshiva, died early last Friday at his home in Jerusalem following a long illness. He was 86.

Students and former students of the yeshiva, rabbis, lawmakers and followers of religious Zionism were among those who attended Amital’s funeral last Friday afternoon.

With his co-head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein, Amital formed the Meimad political movement, a left-wing religious movement, and became its leader when it became a political party in 1999. He served as a minister without portfolio for one year under Prime Minister Shimon Peres following the November 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The rabbi stepped down as head of the yeshiva in 2008.

Amital, a Romania native, survived the Holocaust after working for eight months in a labor camp. He came to Mandatory Palestine in 1944, when he changed his surname from Klein. He served in the Haganah during Israel’s War of Independence.

 

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