Israeli rabbi and politician Porush dies at 93

  • Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 9:49am
  • News

Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Menachem Porush, 93, a well-known Israeli rabbi and longtime leader of one of the most influential ultra-Orthodox parties in parliament, has died.

Porush served for more than 30 years in Israel’s parliament, acting twice as deputy labor minister. He was known for leading the minority ultra-Orthodox Jewish community’s efforts to slow secularization in Israel, leading epic battles for legislation to enforce strict Jewish laws that sparked charges from critics of “religious coercion.”

The Jerusalem-born Porush also founded several religious education centers for ultra-Orthodox children.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu eulogized Porush, who died Sunday, as “a dear, wise, and warm man” and one of Israel’s “most dedicated public servants.”

Thousands attended a funeral today for Porush, who retired from politics in 1994.

During his three decades in public life, Porush led many high-profile campaigns, including a drive to close a main road passing through Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities on the Jewish Sabbath and a mass demonstration against the Israeli Supreme Court in 1999 — after that body issued rulings allowing some shops to stay open on Saturdays and for non-Orthodox rabbis to preside over conversions to Judaism.

During his political career, Porush was affiliated with the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party — in which his son, Meir Porush, is now a central figure.

Porush, a widower, is survived by two sons, two daughters and more than 100 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.