web analytics
October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 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.”

My father was always outspoken, never hesitating to express his opinions, even when they were unwelcome. When someone attending one of his speeches during the Six-Day War criticized the IDF’s level of religious observance, he emphatically declared, “The young man standing at the Suez Canal, risking his life for Israel, is more righteous than you and I will ever be.”

Until his dying day, Irving Bunim was defined by his love of the land of Israel and the state of Israel. His life and his memory are a testament to that love.

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
Chaye Zisel Braun
Funeral for Chaye Zisel Braun Underway [photos]
Latest Indepth Stories
Keeping-Jerusalem

Judea and Samaria (Yesha) have been governed by the IDF and not officially under Israeli sovereignty


n past decades, Oman has struck a diplomatic balance between Saudi Arabia, the West, and Iran.

The Jewish Press endorses the reelection of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. His record as governor these past four years offers eloquent testimony to the experience and vision he has to lead the Empire State for the next four years.

I think Seth Lipsky is amazing, but it just drives home the point that newspapers have a lot of moving parts.

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.

Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.

Turkey and Iran the 2 regional powers surrounding the ISIS conflict gain from a partial ISIS victory

Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.

Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”

Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?

Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.

The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.

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: