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Yehuda Amital
Rav yehuda amital portrait.JPG
Date of birth 31 October 1924 (1924-10-31) (age 85)
Place of birth Oradea, Romania
Year of aliyah 1944
Party Meimad
Ministerial posts
(current in bold)
Minister without Portfolio¹
¹ Though not a Knesset Member

Rabbi Yehuda Amital, (Hebrew: יהודה עמיטל‎), born Yehuda Klein on 31 October 1924) is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion and a former member of the Israeli cabinet.


Amital was born in Oradea in Romania. 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.[1] After his liberation he made his way to Bucharest, from where he travelled to Palestine, arriving on December 11, 1944.[2]

After a short stay at the Atlit detainee camp, he made his way to Jerusalem, where he studied at Hebron Yeshiva, receiving semicha from Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer. He also learned with Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlop, a student of Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook.[3] 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, Rav Zvi Yehuda Meltzer, and the granddaughter of Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer.[4] When the yeshiva relocated to Rehovot, Rav Amital followed, settling in Rehovot until he moved to Jerusalem in the 1960s.

The day after the Declaration of Independence, Rav Amital's unit was mobilized.[5] He took part in battles of Latrun and the western Galilee. After the war Rav 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.

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 Rav Amital asked Rav Aharon Lichtenstein to join him as Rosh Yeshiva.

In 1988 Rav Amital founded the left-leaning religious Meimad movement, and was elected its chairman after it became a political party.[6] In 1995, Rav Amital served as a Minister without Portfolio in the government of Shimon Peres despite not being a Knesset member.[7]

At the age of 80, Rav Amital, with the intention of retiring, asked the management of Yeshivat Har Etzion to select his successors. The yeshiva chose Rabbis Yaaqov Medan and Baruch Gigi.[8] On January 4, 2006, Rav Medan and Rav Gigi were officially invested as co-roshei yeshiva alongside Rav Amital and Rav Aharon Lichtenstein.[9]

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

Rav Amital continues 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 has 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.

  1. ^ BeEmunato, p. 98
  2. ^ BeEmunato, p. 100
  3. ^ BeEmunato, pp. 102-107
  4. ^ BeEmunato, pp. 108-112, 116-117
  5. ^ BeEmunato p. 120
  6. ^ BeEmunato, pp. 184-185
  7. ^ BeEmunato, p. 224
  8. ^ BeEmunato, pp. 262-263
  9. ^ BeEmunato, p. 265

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