Israel StoryProduced in partnership with ToI

Signed, Sealed, Delivered? Zorach Warhaftig

Our new series – a deep dive into Megillat Ha’Atzmaut, or the Declaration of Independence – continues with one of the most important early leaders of the religious Zionist movement

Signed, Sealed, Delivered? Warhaftig (GPO)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered? Warhaftig (GPO)

Zorach (or as most people – including the official Knesset website – called him, Zerach) Warhaftig was an important leader of the Mafdal – the National Religious Party.

During WWII, he saved the lives of up to 6,000 people, and was the last of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence to arrive in the Land of Israel, in 1947.

He served in the Knesset for 27 years, including 12 years as Israel’s Minister of Religious Affairs. He held a PhD in Mishpat Ivri, or Jewish jurisprudence, and was instrumental in the founding of the Rabbinical Court system. On matters of settlements and territorial expansion, he was a dove. On matters of religion? More of a hawk.

His most lasting contribution, however, was probably his role in authoring the Law of Return – a piece of legislation that goes to the heart of Israeli society, touching upon who is welcome to immigrate to this country and who, for the purposes of the State, who is considered a Jew.

He died in Jerusalem in 2002, at the age of ninety-six.

The end song is Ana Be’Koach (lyrics – Medieval Kabbalists, arrangement – Ovadia Hamama), performed by Ovadia Hamama. (Licensed by Israel Story through Acum)

Episode transcript:

About Israel Story: Israel Story is the award-winning podcast that tells extraordinary tales about ordinary Israelis. Often called “the Israeli ‘This American Life,’” we bring you quirky, unpredictable, interesting and moving stories about a place we all think we know a lot about, but really don’t. Produced in partnership with The Times of Israel.

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