Wednesday, March 29, 2023

On Monday, December 26, tens of thousands of people gathered for the funeral of leading religious Zionist Rabbi Chaim Druckman, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 90. The funeral, which took place outside of Ashkelon, was attended by Israel's top religious and political leaders as well as Rabbi Druckman's immediate family and mass of supporters. According to Israel Hayom, Hadassah Ein Kerem reported that Rabbi Druckman had contracted COVID-19 and was being treated by the internal intensive care unit for ten days prior to his passing. Rabbi Druckman leaves behind a lasting legacy in Israel for his political activism and spiritual leadership, as well as his post as dean of Or Etzion Yeshiva and head of the union for Hesder yeshivas. 

Incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also revered Rabbi Druckman's dedication to teaching Torah and the Land of Israel. “A great light of love for Israel has gone out today. A farewell to Rabbi Chaim Druckman. My heart aches deeply along with his dear family and with many, many fellow Jews. The State of Israel has lost a great spiritual leader, and I have lost a personal friend whom I respected very much." He contined that Rabbi Druckman's compass was "the benefit of the Jewish people. Educating the youth, settlement of the Land, social action, growth of the religious Zionist world, and supporting Jewish youths serving in the IDF were at the forefront of his life mission. His extensive activity as a member of the Knesset reflected his being not only a representative of the sector he represented, but a loyal messenger of the general public at large."

At the funeral, Netanyahu eulogized Rabbi Druckman, calling him a "man of unity." He said, "Rabbi Druckman preached for Jewish unity during his first speech at the Knesset 38 years ago. We can't agree on everything in Israel, but I hold the same opinions as him and think we should reach agreements on fundamental topics that have to do with all of us."

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"Rabbi Druckman invested his entire soul in each and every student, in each and every educator and yeshiva, in the Bnei Akiva movement, in military academies, in the settlements," he added. "He did not shrink from waging war on the matters that go to the heart of the state - the integrity of the land, national values, educating the youth toward a Jewish identity, halting terrorism, and ensuring the strength of the IDF."

According to the Times of Israel, Rabbi Druckman served several terms in the Knesset beginning in 1977, up until his retirement from political life in 2003. He was a leader in the establisment of Gush Emunim, a group dedicated to Jewish settlement in the West Bank. He also served as the spiritual leader of the Jewish Home party during Naftali Bennett's leadership, but switched to support Bezalel Smotrich's Religious Zionism party in the March 2021 elections. 

Smotrich described Rabbi Druckman as a man chracterized by "wisdom, humility, righteousness and leadership." He shared that even toward the end of his life, Rabbi Druckman was always available to give advice. "Until his last days, there was not a moment the rabbi was not free for the needs of the Jewish nation," said Smotrich. 


Israel's President Isaac Herzog called Druckman "one of the great rabbis of Israel."

"I mourn the passing of Rabbi Chaim Druckman. He was a public emissary and spiritual leader who led with vision and action some of the most important undertakings of Torah, Zionism and revivalism of our generation," the president tweeted. “All of us were your sons, all of us were your students."

Rabbi Druckman was the recipient of the Israel Prize, and was a major power broker in Israeli politics for decades. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Sarah, a doctor, one of the first religious women to graduate from Hebrew University’s medical program. The two have nine children, including one adopted daughter and a daughter with Down syndrome. They have scores of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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