Yehuda Amital

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Yehuda Amital
Rav yehuda amital portrait.JPG
Date of birth (1924-10-31)31 October 1924
Place of birth Oradea, Romania
Year of aliyah 1944
Date of death 9 July 2010(2010-07-09) (aged 85)
Place of death Jerusalem, Israel
Ministerial roles
1995–1996 Minister without Portfolio

Yehuda Amital (Hebrew: יהודה עמיטל‎‎, born Yehuda Klein; 31 October 1924 – 9 July 2010) was an Orthodox rabbi, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion and a former member of the Israeli cabinet.


Yehuda Klein (later Amital) was born in Oradea, Romania, son of Yekutiel Ze'ev and Devora. After four years of secular primary education, he began religious studies with Rabbi Chaim Yehuda Levi.[1] When Germany occupied the area in 1944, the Nazis sent his entire family to Auschwitz where they were killed. Amital was sent to a labor camp, thus surviving the Holocaust. He remained in the labor camp for eight months, and was liberated on October 4, 1944 by the Soviet Army.[2] After his liberation he made his way to Bucharest, from where he travelled to Palestine, arriving on December 11, 1944.[3]

After a short stay at the Atlit detainee camp, he made his way to Jerusalem, where he studied at Hebron Yeshiva, receiving semicha from Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer. He also learned with Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Charlop, a student of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook.[4] Around this time he joined the Haganah.

After learning at Hebron he moved to Pardes Hanna in order to learn at Kletzk Yeshiva. While learning at the yeshiva, he married Miriam, the daughter of the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Meltzer, and the granddaughter of Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer.[5] When the yeshiva relocated to Rehovot, Amital followed, settling in Rehovot until he moved to Jerusalem in the 1960s.

The day after the Declaration of Independence, Amital's unit was mobilized.[6] He took part in battles of Latrun and the western Galilee. After the war, Amital became a rabbinic secretary in the Beth Din of Rehovot and, two years later, he became an instructor at Yeshivat HaDarom, where he helped formulate the idea of a Hesder Yeshiva.

Amital died on July 9, 2010, and was laid to rest in the Har Hamenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem, where thousands attended his funeral.[7]

Political career[edit]

In 1988, Amital founded the left-leaning religious Meimad movement, and was elected its chairman after it became a political party.[8] In 1995, he served as a Minister without Portfolio in the government of Shimon Peres despite not being a Knesset member.[9]

Educational career[edit]

After the Six Day War, he founded Yeshivat Har Etzion, a Hesder Yeshiva in Gush Etzion. The yeshiva opened in Kfar Etzion in 1968 with 30 students. After two years the institution moved to its current location in Alon Shvut. In 1971 Amital asked Aharon Lichtenstein to join him as Rosh Yeshiva.

At the age of 80, Amital asked the management of Yeshivat Har Etzion to select his successors. The yeshiva chose Rabbis Yaaqov Medan and Baruch Gigi.[10] On January 4, 2006, Medan and Gigi were officially invested as co-roshei yeshiva alongside Amital and Aharon Lichtenstein.[11]

On September 25, 2008, Amital officially announced his retirement, to take effect on the last day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, in the year 5769 (October 28, 2008). He also announced that Mosheh Lichtenstein, the son Aharon Lichtenstein, would assume the position as the fourth Rosh Yeshiva on that same day.

Amital continued to be a prominent public figure in Israel, with a broad impact on matters of religious and national concern. His students and disciples are leading figures in many walks of life. He had developed an educational philosophy which combines deep faithfulness to tradition and ethical responsibility to society at large with commitment to the moral and spiritual flourishing of each individual.

Published works[edit]


  1. ^ This Day in Jewish History / A yeshiva head and settler who had a change of heart is born
  2. ^ BeEmunato, p. 98
  3. ^ BeEmunato, p. 100
  4. ^ BeEmunato, pp. 102-107
  5. ^ BeEmunato, pp. 108-112, 116-117
  6. ^ BeEmunato p. 120
  7. ^ Jonah Mandel; Daniel Clinton. "Rabbi Yehuda Amital dies at 85 in J'lem". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  8. ^ BeEmunato, pp. 184-185
  9. ^ BeEmunato, p. 224
  10. ^ BeEmunato, pp. 262-263
  11. ^ BeEmunato, p. 265

External links[edit]