Rabbi Moshe Levinger (Yossi Zamir/Flash90) (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Rabbi Moshe Levinger
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faces_of_israel

Rabbi Moshe Levinger, a leading activist for Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel, died last weekend at the age of 80. 

Rabbi Moshe Levinger, considered the “father” of the Jewish settlement movement in Judea and Samaria and frequently called “The Sheriff of Hebron,” passed away at 80 on Saturday at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, where he was hospitalized over the past few months. He was buried in the ancient Jewish cemetery of Hebron on Sunday.

Levinger, son of German-Jewish immigrants to Jerusalem, was one of the founders of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, as it was known prior to Israel’s 2005 disengagement from Gaza.

“His leaving on the eve of Jerusalem Day and Hebron Day symbolizes his spirit and the great love he had for the entire Land of Israel,” said Malachi Levinger, the rabbi’s son, Israel Hayom reported.

(Sunday was Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day – which marked the 48th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Hebron, too, was liberated during the Six Day War.)

Rabbi Levinger (L) in 1975 after government permission was granted to establish a Jewish settlement in Hebron. (Moshe Milner/GPO)

Rabbi Levinger (L) in 1975 after government permission was granted to establish a Jewish settlement in Hebron. (Moshe Milner/GPO)

Levinger was born in Jerusalem in 1935. In 1968, seeking to revive the historic Jewish presence in Hebron, he led a group of influential Jews committed to the cause on Passover eve, and they held a seder at the Park Hotel. That Hebron seder became a symbol of strength, as the group announced it was staying in the historic Jewish city.

Hebron, the first capital of the Jewish people, hosts the Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs – the burial site of the Jewish patriarchs and three out of four matriarchs, among other biblical figures. As recorded in the bible, Abraham purchased the Cave from Ephron the Hittite. King David was anointed in Hebron and ruled there for seven years until establishing Jerusalem as the capital.

Jews had been living in the holy city of Hebron for centuries. In 1929, the Arabs in Hebron perpetrated an unexpected pogrom on the small Jewish community, killing 67 men, women and children and wounding 60. Between 1948 and 1967, when the city was occupied by Jordan, the Jordanians destroyed the Jewish quarter and desecrated the Jewish cemetery.

Rabbi Moshe Levinger

Rabbi Moshe Levinger holding newborn grandchild in Hebron. (hebron.com)

“In recent years you suffered from a serious illness, and when I came to visit you, I saw that you did not cease to believe, to hope, and to expect to see the redemption of Israel. Today, as we accompany you on your last path, I cannot but remember your struggle not only for life here, but for the right to be buried in the cemetery here in Hebron,” President Reuven Rivlin stated in his eulogy.

“Rabbi Levinger’s name will be forever be linked with the movement for renewed Jewish settlement in Hebron and other areas of the country where our patriarchs walked thousands of years ago. He was an outstanding example of a generation that sought to realize the Zionist dream, in deed and in spirit, after the Six Day War,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in a condolence letter to the Levinger family.

Rabbi Levinger is survived by his wife Miriam – also a leading activist – 11 children and numerous grandchildren, many of whom are continuing the struggle for Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel.

By: JNS.org and United with Israel Staff