Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.
The passing of Rabbi Menachem Porush in Jerusalem on Sunday night brought to mind many memories of my childhood. He was a close friend and working colleague of my father, Simcha Unsdorfer, z”l, who served as secretary general of British Agudah.
Always impeccably dressed in kapota and cufflinks, Rabbi Porush had an almost regal bearing and was a frequent visitor to our London home.
I particularly remember him being with us in the week before the start of the Six-Day War in 1967. I recall him sitting with my father watching the somber news bulletins on our black and white TV. A map with three thick black arrows was on the screen, each arrow representing a massive Arab army pointed toward the tiny sliver of Eretz Yisrael.
I watched as my father, an Auschwitz survivor, became ever more stressed with each bulletin. In contrast, Rabbi Porush’s measured tones and kindly features exuded a reassuring calm that was rooted in a belief system greater and stronger than is the case for most people.
The sad news of his petirah also reminded me of a piece I had written for The Jewish Press some years ago. Titled “Joseph – The Second Betrayal,” it was about the preservation of Jewish rights of access to our patriarchal burial sites. The following extract is particularly apt to reprint as a tribute to the life and work of Reb Menachem of blessed memory:
It was during the summer of 1995 that a fateful encounter took place in the Knesset, outside the office of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Rabin’s government was putting the final touches on the second Oslo agreement that was to hand over a further tranche of West Bank towns to the new Palestinian Authority. This included Bethlehem, site of Rachel’s Tomb, at which Jews have prayed for thousands of years. National Religious Party member Hanan Porat realized that the tomb was slated to fall into “Area A,” that is, under full Arab civil and military control. He decided he must speak with Rabin and try to change his mind.
Another MK, Jewish Press columnist Rabbi Menachem Porush, happened to walk by and saw his friend standing outside the prime minister’s office carrying a large aerial photograph of the tomb compound and the Bethlehem-Gilo border.
“What are you doing here?” asked Porush.
“I have come to lobby for Rachel’s Tomb,” Porat responded.
Porush asked if he could join him at the meeting and Porat agreed.
For the greater part of the meeting, Porush sat in silence. He listened to Porat, who drew lines on the aerial photograph and illustrated how short was the distance and shooting range between Gilo and Bethlehem. Porat also asked Rabin if he would be willing to give the Palestinians the grave of Ben Gurion or that of his Palmach commander, Yigal Allon.
Rabin was preparing to respond when Porush stood up and embraced him. Addressing him as “Reb Yitzchak,” Porush tearfully beseeched him not to give up Rachel’s Tomb.
“It was beyond words,” Porat recalled in a later interview. “Reb Menachem sobbed, crying real tears onto the prime minister’s shirt. Rabin begged him, ‘Reb Menachem, please calm down.’ Reb Menachem retorted: ‘How can I calm down? You are planning to give away Mama Ruchi’s grave. The Jewish people will never forgive you if you abandon Mama’s tomb.’ ”
Rabin relented and promised the two Knesset members that he would re-examine the issue. Just a few days later, the 463 meters separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem were restored to their “Area C” status under complete Israel security and civil control. The Palestinians agreed to be compensated with other territories.
On the last morning of Reb Menachem’s life, the usual Sunday cabinet meeting took place in Jerusalem. On the agenda: a discussion and vote on a proposal to provide government funding to specially designated sites of Jewish heritage. Reb Menachem would have been delighted and touched to hear Prime Minister Netanyahu add Kever Rachel to the list.
Some would call it a happy coincidence; others an irony. But sooner or later most Jews come to realize there are no coincidences in the Land of Israel. This was a parting gift to a remarkable human being – a rabbi who devoted his life to the defense of Torah and the upholding of a plethora of educational institutions and charitable causes.
About the Author: Zalmi Unsdorfer is chairman of Likud-Herut in the UK
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Israel must develop it’s truthful message to be as clear & simple to comprehend as the Arab’s lies
2 basic aspects of Aristotelian thought remarkably like Jewish thought: “Involvement” & “Purpose”
“Farming still allows some unique opportunities for mitzvah fulfillment that a city dweller never meets.”
Feiglin: Only true liberty will allow us to genuinely connect to our Jewish identity.
The silver lining with early elections is the chance to change the current dysfunctional government.
The Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland informed the host he could not say “Israel or Jewish state”
It’s fascinating how sources attain the status “traditional,” or its equivalent level of kashrus.
The West needs to ensure Russia understands that aggression comes at a significant cost.
What benefit is a learning experience that leaves kids confused,disillusioned&harms self confidence?
Girlfriend and double cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently was influenced by Islamic extremism.
We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.
Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.
Also left unsaid was the fact that the menorah and its oil were in the Beit HaMikdash, which of course was located on Har HaBayit – the Temple Mount that present-day Muslims claim as their own.
Next month I am due to participate in a London debate on the question: Is it OK for Jews to criticize Israel? One of my opponents is a leader of the Peace Now movement who, in a previous debate about the UK’s academic boycott, steered the discussion to his own army service (as an IDF spokesman, no less) and promptly branded Israeli border guards as “paramilitary thugs.”
For American taxpayers, the devil is in the details of the new health care law. But for the Jewish people and the State of Israel the devil is in the comparison between Barack Obama’s steamrollering of health care legislation and his developing Middle East policy.
The passing of Rabbi Menachem Porush in Jerusalem on Sunday night brought to mind many memories of my childhood. He was a close friend and working colleague of my father, Simcha Unsdorfer, z”l, who served as secretary general of British Agudah. Always impeccably dressed in kapota and cufflinks, Rabbi Porush had an almost regal bearing […]
It is hard to imagine a scene as joyous and religiously charged as Machpela on the Friday night of Parshat Chayei Sarah. Every year, many thousands of Jews from all over Israel, and hundreds more from Europe and America, flock to the tomb of our patriarchs, which Abraham purchased for Sarah’s burial nearly 4,000 years ago.
The British government’s ban on Moshe Feiglin from entering the UK is symptomatic of a deep and institutional prejudice against Israel. Feiglin, a Jewish Press columnist, is best known for running second to Benjamin Netanyahu in the last Likud leadership primary.
The throngs of tourists passing Big Ben are unaware of the tunnel beneath their feet, which connects the parliamentary committee rooms in Portcullis House to the British House of Commons. When the division bells ring, members of parliament sprint along the passage to cast their votes in the chamber. It was in one of those committee rooms last Thursday evening that a group of MPs met with foreign lawmakers to discuss boycott, divestment and the indictment of a sovereign nation with the arrest of its officials for breach of international law.
Did you hear the one about Nelson Mandela, the pope, Mother Teresa and the Jew? Turns out they are the only non-Americans ever to have received both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congres-sional Medal of Honor. The Jew? None other than our own icon of freedom, Natan Sharansky, the former refusenik and prisoner of conscience who earlier this month received his Medal of Freedom at the White House.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/rabbi-porushs-noble-legacy/2010/02/24/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: