Emanuel Rackman, Modern Orthodox leader, dies


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, a leader of the Modern Orthodox movement, has died.

Rabbi Rackman died Monday in New York at the age of 98. He was buried Wednesday in Israel.

He served as the president and later the chancellor of Bar Ilan University in Israel. He held the latter position until his death.

Rabbi Rackman was the provost of Yeshiva University in the 1970s. He also taught political philosophy and jurisprudence there, as well as at New York University and the City University of New York.

He served as the president of the New York Board of Rabbis and the Rabbinical Council of America, as well as vice president of the Religious Zionists of America.

In the 1990s, Rabbi Rackman attracted controversy when he formed an independent bet din, or religious court, to release women whose husbands refused to grant them a get, or Jewish divorce, from their marriages.

"His 70-year-long career in the rabbinate was marked by fearlessness," wrote David Weinberg, his former student and Bar Ilan University spokesman, in Wednesday’s Jerusalem Post. "He stood out, bravely, ahead of the Orthodox mainstream. He was concurrently beloved and controversial."

He served as a military chaplain in the U.S. Air Force Reserve in World War II, retiring with the rank of colonel.

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