Rabbi Menachem Froman, a leading and controversial national religious rabbi from the eastern Gush Etzion community of Tekoa, died Monday at the age of 68 after a two-year battle against colon cancer.
Approximately 200 students and followers of the rabbi sang and prayed at his house Sunday night, when Rabbi Froman usually delivered a weekly class on the mystical Zohar.
Rabbi Froman was a paratrooper in the IDF and participated in the restoration of the Western Wall to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967.
Rabbi Froman was known to be very favorable towards co-existence with Arabs despite his fierce defense of the settlement movement, of which he was a co-founder.
He used to meet with Yasser Arafat and Ahmed Yassin of Hamas, meetings which drew harsh criticism and enthusiastic praise from difference sectors of Israeli society.
He stood by his belief that religious leaders from both the Arab and Jewish communities must be involved in effort to make peace. Rabbi Froman believed that one of the reasons the Oslo Accords failed was leaving religious leaders out of the peace process.
His discussions with Arab leaders included efforts to ease Israeli sanctions on Hamas-controlled Gaza in return for a definitive pledge to stop all rocket and missile attacks on Israel.
He also reached a private agreement, which was not endorsed by the Israeli government, to win the relapse of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who was freed last November in return for more than 1,000 Palestinian Authority terrorists and security prisoners.
“The root of the problem is Israeli and American arrogance,” he once stated. “If Israeli governments had grasped these opportunities, not only would a great deal of bloodshed been spared and there would be a cease-fire between our two peoples, but there would have been no attack on the World Trade enter, and no American invasion of Iraq.”