web analytics
October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Irving Bunim: Torah Activist, Ardent Zionist

Ausubel-122812

My father, businessman and philanthropist Irving Bunim, z”l, was one of the foremost leaders of American Orthodoxy during its formative years. When he passed away in December 1980, Reb Moshe Feinstein declared, “This is not an aveilus d’yachid [a private loss]; this has the halacha of aveilus d’rabim [a public loss] because [he] represented the rabim of Klal Yisrael [the Jewish pubic].”

After his passing, various books and articles were published about his life’s work. These publications described his multifaceted leadership and his commitment to Torah and Am Yisrael. They highlighted his central role in saving thousands of our brethren in Nazi-occupied Europe through the Vaad Hatzalah and the key part he played in developing the infrastructure for American Orthodoxy as we know it today: his founding of the Young Israel movement and his work in establishing central institutions of Torah education in the U.S., such as Torah Umesorah, the Lakewood yeshiva, and the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School.

Prominently cited were his major support for the Chinuch Atzmai network in Israel, his close personal relationship with Torah luminary Rav Aharon Kotler, and his three-volume commentary on Pirkei Avot, which is still used by the most learned scholars as well as newcomers to Torah. His Perek on the Green classes, which attracted thousands of students every year, were also mentioned. His relationship with many of Washington’s movers and shakers was likewise noted.

However, one central aspect of my father’s life was glaringly omitted in these various write-ups – his abiding love for Eretz Yisrael and for Medinat Yisrael. Just seeing the Israeli flag flying would bring tears to his eyes.

My father dreamed of an independent, self-reliant Israel, with its own army, navy and air force. As far back as the early 1930s he bought land in Herzliya in order to have a chelek ve’nachala (portion and inheritance) in the Holy Land. He donated the land and orchard grove to a moshav, all taxes paid, with the proviso that it observe Shabbat and shemittah.

Perhaps my father’s love for the Land of Israel is best reflected by his long-standing relationship with Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the great leader of the Revisionist Zionist movement. A recently found paper, written and signed by my father, documents some of his activity on behalf of Jabotinsky and the Revisionists.

Following the massacre in Hebron in 1929, he joined Jabotinsky’s deputy in making appeals in synagogues and hotels to purchase arms for the Betar para-military group in Palestine, the youth wing of the Revisionist movement.

“Where we had ammunition, the Arabs didn’t dare to attack,” my father wrote.

When Revisionist activists were falsely accused and indicted for the murder of Jewish Agency official Chaim Arlosoroff in 1933, my father organized a campaign to raise money for their ultimately successful legal defense.

More than a hundred people attended a parlor meeting for Jabotinsky my father hosted in our home in 1940.

“I revere his memory,” my father wrote, after Jabotinsky suddenly died later that year, noting that he had developed “an intimate relationship with Jabotinsky and his co-workers.” He was one of those who later convinced Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol to allow Jabotinksy’s remains to be reinterred in Israel.

In 1940, my father, together with Eddie Silver, who would later become district attorney of Kings County, called a special conference at the Hotel Astor to raise funds for Aliya Bet, the “illegal” immigration movement organized by Betar in defiance of the British White Paper restricting immigration to Palestine.

In 1947 my father organized a rally in Madison Square Garden to raise money to purchase ammunition for Betar in preparation for the War of Independence. He wrote and produced a pageant, “As Long as the Candle is Burning,” for the occasion. The ammunition was transported with the help of the Sacks Brothers in Passaic, who were moving their plant to Palestine.

In those days it was almost unheard of for an Orthodox leader to also be an ardent Zionist. My father was once asked how he could host Rabbi Elchonan Wasserman, leader of Agudath Israel, in his home one day and Jabotinsky the next. He responded: “I love truth: one is a true Torah scholar and the other a true Zionist.”

About the Author: Chana Rubin Ausubel is a former national field director for Emunah Women of America, director and teacher at Machon Ora’s English-speaking women's division, and founder and director of Machon Maayan Bina, a school for English-speaking converts. She resides in Israel.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Irving Bunim: Torah Activist, Ardent Zionist”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.
Yehuda Glick’s Condition Stabilizing, “He Was Very Lucky” (1:00 PM)
Latest Indepth Stories
Which glass has the poison?

The White House wanted to defame Netanyahu, undermine his reputation, impugn him & his policies

Adolf Hitler and the representative of the Palestinian Arabs, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, December, 1941.

Palestinian anti-Semitism in 2014 is more extreme and mainstream than German A/S in the 1930s.

Sheldon Silver

Woven deeply through it all is the Jewish obligation to fight injustice.

Cravatts-Richard--new

Only in the inverted world of academia would Jewish professors denounce the AMCHA Initiative report.

Many poskim were and are adamant about the responsibility of every individual to vote.

Individuals who may have been abused are the “clients” in need and receiving care and protection.

An accomplished Torah scholar and ardent adherent of Bobov chassidus, he was renowned for his self-effacing dedication and skills as an international lawyer and law professor

The fact that the United States government after World War II sought to take advantage of the expertise of German scientists, even those known to have contributed to the Nazi war effort, is well known and largely accepted as having been necessary for America’s national defense. (Wernher von Braun is perhaps the most famous and […]

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

Rabinovich is the author of several popular books on Israel’s wars, including The Battle for Jerusalem, The Yom Kippur War, and The Boats of Cherbourg.

To say he was beloved because of the way he loved his students does not sufficiently capture the reality.

The birth I speak about is to give birth to ourselves, to our full potential.

The extreme hypocrisy, contempt & vulgarity of the attacks indicate more than a policy disagreement

More Articles from Chana Rubin Ausubel
Ausubel-122812

My father, businessman and philanthropist Irving Bunim, z”l, was one of the foremost leaders of American Orthodoxy during its formative years. When he passed away in December 1980, Reb Moshe Feinstein declared, “This is not an aveilus d’yachid [a private loss]; this has the halacha of aveilus d’rabim [a public loss] because [he] represented the rabim of Klal Yisrael [the Jewish pubic].”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/irving-bunim-torah-activist-ardent-zionist/2012/12/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: