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Thousands Pay Last Respects to Rabbi Yitzhak Meir Levin, 77, Agudath Israel Leader

August 9, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Rabbi Yitzhak Meir Levin, long-time president of the Agudath Israel Movement in Israel and a member of the Knesset since it was formed, was buried here today. His funeral was attended by leading figures of Israel. Rabbi Levin died Friday night at the age of 77, at the Shaarei Tsedek Hospital, where he was admitted Thursday after collapsing during the funeral of fellow Aguda leader Rabbi Yosef Naftali Stern. Rabbi Levin’s death was not announced until the Sabbath was over in accordance with Orthodox tradition, Mourners at Rabbi Levin’s funeral included President Zalman Shazar, Chief Rabbis Issar Yehuda Unterman and Itzhak Nissim, Knesset Speaker Reuben Barkatt, members of the Supreme Court and Cabinet ministers, and thousands of persons. Because of the vast numbers of persons present to pay their last respects, the funeral procession proceeded on foot along the entire route from Rabbi Levin’s home to the Mount of Olives-more than three miles. This was an unprecedented event since the casket is not carried for more than a few hundred yards and then placed in a car for the rest of the way to the cemetery. Rabbi Levin was eulogized at ‘today’s Cabinet session by Premier Golda Meir.

Born in Gar, Poland, Rabbi Levin was related to the Gur Hassidic dynasty. At the age of 16, he was married to the daughter of the then Rebbe of Gur. In 1912, Rabbi Levin’s father-in-law founded the Agudath Israel Movement to serve as an anti-Zionist counterbalance to the increasing influence of the mainly secular Zionists. Rabbi Levin was made president of the movement, and over the years he gained a worldwide reputation as a powerful Yiddish orator and a strong political leader of Polish Jewry, among whom the Agudath Israel element was very strong. He fled the German takeover of Poland and came to Palestine in 1940. Under the influence of the Nazi holocaust, Rabbi Levin’s movement became non-Zionist rather than anti-Zionist and cooperated in the establishment of the State of Israel. Rabbi Levin was a signatory of Israel’s Declaration of Independence and a Cabinet member until 1952, when his party left the government coalition because of difference over the conscription of girls into the army and the way to set up an orthodox school system. The party has remained in the opposition ever since, continuing its efforts to give Israel a more traditional, halachic character. Rabbi Levin’s Knesset seat will be filled by Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv, Rabbi Yehuda Mei###, Abramovitz, who is next on the Aguda list.

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