Israeli Political Leaders Praise Lifetime Work of Late Hebron Rabbi
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a letter of condolence to the family of the late leader Rabbi Moshe Levinger, who was known for his work in establishing the modern Jewish community of Hebron. He was also one of the founders of the Gush Emunim settlement movement.
Rabbi Levinger, who had been battling a serious illness, passed away at age 80, on Saturday, May 16 in Hebron.
“There is great symbolism that Rabbi Levinger passed away on the eve of Jerusalem Day; he leaves behind him a well-established legacy and many students [that] are dedicated to taking root in our Land,” wrote the Israeli prime minister.
This year, thousands took to the streets of Jerusalem Day to commemorate the liberation and reunification of the Jewish people’s ancient capital 48 years ago. The public holiday also marks how for the first time in thousands of years, the holiest city in Judaism came entirely under Jewish sovereignty.
“Rabbi Levinger’s name will be forever linked with the movement for renewed Jewish settlement in Hebron and other areas of the country where our patriarchs walked thousands of years ago. He was an outstanding example of a generation that sought to realize the Zionist dream, in deed and in spirit, after the Six Day War,” pointed out Netanyahu.
“You believed with all your heart that by rebuilding Hebron, you would also re-build Jerusalem, and out of that belief you acted to ensure that not only would Jerusalem be redeemed, but so would Kiryat Arba in Hebron,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin further eulogized at Rabbi Levinger’s funeral in Hebron on May 17.
Rabbi Levinger, a prominent student of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, was described by Rivlin as coming from a unique Jerusalem family. “You grew up in a household with rare religious and spiritual depth. A house with wide-ranging knowledge, a loyalty to the concept of Torah and science,” said Rivlin.
The Israeli president also noted that the first donor to the Hebron Yeshiva, under Rabbi Levinger’s leadership, was none other than Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, who gave 100 Israeli liras (the old Israeli currency).
“Today, as we accompany you on your last path, I cannot but remember your struggle not only for life here, but for the right to be buried in the cemetery here in Hebron. Today these graves here will be joined by the grave of Rabbi Levinger one of our most treasured sons and founders of the Jewish community here,” concluded Rivlin, whose own mother’s family lived in Hebron before the Arab massacre of 67 Jews in 1929.