web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 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 »

The Unlikely Origin Of Beit HaRav Kook


An article by Dvora Waysman in the March 18 issue of The Jewish Press referred to the home of the first chief rabbi of Israel, Rav Avraham Yitzchok Hakohen Kook, which has been converted into a museum.

There is much more to the story.

It is told in Forty Years of Struggle for a Principle, the biography of Harry Fischel, citing public records and periodicals, and was alluded to by Dr. Yitzchok Levine in the last of a series of articles on Fischel for The Jewish Press (June 2, 2006).

In the days when Eretz Yisrael was known as Palestine and ruled by the British, the consensus was that the British wanted the Jews to have a homeland but only as a continuing colony under British rule. Eventually, Menachem Begin and the Irgun led a revolt (for which the Haganah got much of the credit, but this is a story for another day), leading to the creation of the independent state of Israel.

Here’s the shocker: The idea to build a special house for the chief rabbi of Palestine came from none other than his excellency, the high commissioner of Palestine, representing the British government – Sir Herbert Samuel.

Here’s how it came about and was implemented, as recounted primarily by Harry Fischel through his son-in-law, Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein, in the biography referred to above. Fischel is the person who arranged for the house to be built, entirely at his own personal expense.

On Fischel’s second trip to Palestine, in 1921, a military officer of the British government presented him with an invitation to call upon the high commissioner. Fischel was warned by Herbert Samuel’s secretary that Samuel normally limited his meetings to 20 minutes, during which Fischel planned to discuss how he could help in the building of the Jewish homeland.

During the hour and three-quarters of their conference, covering many subjects, Samuels pointed out to Fischel, in the words of Fischel’s biographer, that “whereas the chief representatives of other religions in the city of Jerusalem each occupied a suitable residence, Rabbi Kook was compelled to live on the second floor of an old and dilapidated building where the proper reception to visitors was impossible. He stated that this residence ill-befitted the dignity of the high office of the chief rabbi of Palestine,” and advised Fischel to try to convince a few wealthy Americans to build a more suitable home for the chief rabbi.

Before the day was over, Fischel had decided not only to build a home for the chief rabbi, but a synagogue (to be used as a yeshiva) as well, entirely at his own expense. The chief rabbi at first declined the generous offer, but then was persuaded to accept the gift not as a personal tribute but as one made in recognition of his office.

Upon its completion the building was described in The New York Times as “a monument to Jerusalem, located on the [then] principal square at the intersection of three streets of Moorish design, built of stone . It is probably the only house in the city having every modern convenience, and besides living rooms, it also contains a large meeting room and a synagogue ” The latter was used as the yeshiva until the current yeshiva building was built for what has come to be known as Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav, with a wing dedicated by the Harry and Jane Fischel Foundation.

The day of the dedication of the building “was regarded as a national holiday . The whole City of Jerusalem was decorated for the occasion . In practically every window appeared the Zionist flag, that was merged in the decorations with the American colors.”

Participants at the dedication itself included both chief rabbis, the high commissioner, consular officials, the acting governor of Jerusalem, the mayor of Jerusalem, Dr. Judah Magnes, and many rabbis, including Fischel’s son-in-law, Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein, then president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. Thousands of people stood outside in the streets, kept in order by military officers.

An official government reporter recounted: “The ceremony was a most brilliant event and will remain a red letter day in the annals of Jerusalem . There were present the elite of the Jewish and non-Jewish communities . On the wall facing the gathering there were hung two pictures, one of King George V, and the other of the High Commissioner.”

There were banners with biblical verses. And, as described in Forty Years of Struggle for a Principle, “The High Commissioner delivered an address, which was regarded by the assembly as of great political importance, most notably [his statement that] the purpose of the policy of the British government had been, was now and would remain, the promotion of the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine ”

Rabbi Aaron I. Reichel, Esq., who bears Harry Fischel’s Hebrew name, is a great-grandson of Fischel and administrator of the Harry and Jane Fischel Foundation.

About the Author:


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 “The Unlikely Origin Of Beit HaRav Kook”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jews Against Genocide mimicked and blasphemed the ALS Ice Bucket  Challenge with their anti-Israel "Blood Bucket Challenge."
‘Jews Against Genocide’ Take ‘Blood Bucket Challenge’ at Yad Vashem [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
terrorists

Is the global community clear in its response to these extremist groups?

obama

Like our fabled character, Don Quixote, President Obama has constantly spawned his own reality.

Ayatollah Hossein-Kazamani Boroujerdi, in better times (left) and in his prison cell (right).

Boroujerdi was informed that “the pressures and tortures will increase until he has been destroyed.”

Senior Hamas and Fatah leaders in Gaza City on April 22. Hamas and Fatah signed a deal to establish a unity government, but since then little progress has been made.

Fatah: Hamas stole relief aid for Gaza and distributed it amongst its followers in mosques.

Can teenagers seriously be expected to behave properly when they are surrounded by so much suggestive material? Is it fair to expose them (and ourselves) to so much temptation and then tell them, “Just say no”?

Washington remains ignorant of the need to dismantle alliances with various Muslim countries.

Defeating IS requires bombing its strongholds and recognizing the violent nature of Islam.

Abbas again used the UN to attack Israel, distort history, and undermine prospects for peace.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority cannot even agree to move their clocks back on the same day.

Shemita is about relating to each other by temporarily eliminating gaps of wealth power & status

David transcended adversity to become a leader; Who are we to make excuses for a lack of greatness?

sympathy: Feeling sorrow or pity for another’s tribulations; Empathy:sharing an emotional experience

Last week the president announced a four-point plan. Unfortunately, there’s little buy-in from our European and Middle Eastern allies. Here’s my own four-point plan that may be more palatable to our allies.

Rosh Hashanah has an obvious connection to God’s Kingship. We constantly refer to Him during the Asseres Yemei Teshuvah as Melech/King. The nusach of the tefillah, referring to Rosh Hashanah as “a remembrance of the first day” (of Creation), implies a certain dimension of divine kingship operating at the time of Creation and replicated every […]

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

More Articles from Rabbi Aaron I. Reichel
Winter-112213-Carlebach

Rabbi Dr. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher) has just written a blockbuster magnum opus about Reb Shlomo that is sweeping in scope and destined to become the definitive biography of a unique personality whose influence on Jewish prayer as expressed musically may be more far-reaching than that of anyone since King David.

Reichel-050412

It seems that from time immemorial, or more specifically from some time after G-d first declared that a person’s days shall be limited to 120 years, at best (Genesis 6:3), Jews have been blessing each other with the wish “May you live to be 120.” I have noticed, however, that many people look at that goal with trepidation, as if it is not necessarily something positive to live for.

An article by Dvora Waysman in the March 18 issue of The Jewish Press referred to the home of the first chief rabbi of Israel, Rav Avraham Yitzchok Hakohen Kook, which has been converted into a museum. There is much more to the story. It is told in Forty Years of Struggle for a Principle, […]

Anyone reading this well-researched and objective biography (just translated into Hebrew) has to be struck by how the focus of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s life was on promoting Jewish identity, pride, values, knowledge, and even music, and how minimal a role that actual violence played even in the “militant” Jewish Defense League. Even the limited violence was for deterrence and limited primarily to property damages.

Anyone reading this well-researched and objective biography (just translated into Hebrew) has to be struck by how the focus of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s life was on promoting Jewish identity, pride, values, knowledge, and even music, and how minimal a role that actual violence played even in the “militant” Jewish Defense League. Even the limited violence was for deterrence and limited primarily to property damages.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-unlikely-origin-of-beit-harav-kook/2011/03/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: