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Libby Kahane: Wife of Rabbi Meir Kahane

By Tamar Yonah
4/2/2008, 12:00 AM

Libby Kahane, wife of Rabbi Meir Kahane z"l, joined me in the Arutz 7 studio on Tuesday for an indepth interview.  She wrote a book (more like an encyclopedia) on the life and teachings of her husband.  She documents his history from even before he was born delving into his yichus (family line) where you learn about his father and mother, and his upbringing.  She includes over 30 pages of glossy photographs which can often give a person insight into his life, and the times many of us grew up in.  These photos speak more than words ever can.  You might even find yourself in some of those photos if you were ever at one of his demonstrations.

The book which you all should order, is entitled, "RABBI MEIR KAHANE: His Life and Thought (Volume One: 1932-1975)".  The book is over 700 pages and is chock full of stories that will entrance and inspire you.  She has already gathered most of her research together for volume II, which will cover the period from 1975 and beyond, but is still looking for people to email her with personal memories and stories about her husband. (See below for email address)

To look at Rabanit Libby Kahane is so un-telling.  She looks like most any grandmother, soft, unassuming, and yet a strength and power oozes out of her.  She had to be strong, she was married to Rabbi Meir Kahane!  She fed the man, physically and spiritually (though she may not like me praising her so).  She raised his children, and was the anchor of Jewish life in the home.  During the week as he was out saving the Jewish people, trying to shake them awake from their comfortable American stupor life styles, it was she who held the internal fort. They had 4 children together and much of the time she was a de-facto single mother, raising them when her husband was not home or had to sit in jail for his JDL (Jewish Defense League) activities. Though their father was absent, they found comfort from his letters he sent from prison.      Photograph from the book:
Rabbi Meir Kahane, Libby Kahane, and one of their sons, Binaymin.
  Both her husband and son were eventually killed by Arab bullets.

In the interview, she described one of the profound points he hammered home to his family explaining why his children could be proud of their father, even though he was not able to be with them.  You’ll have to listen to the interview to hear what he wrote them, and read the book to understand the meaning behind those words.

Libby’s book about her husband lets one peer into what drove Rabbi Kahane to roll up his sleeves and make headlines.  It shows us all how we can leave our cushioned world that we built for ourselves and enter the real world unprotected by our neighborhood boundaries and familiar, comfortable daily-life routines. --- It’s all in the decisions we make. 

This book shows, that HOW we choose to behave, makes the difference between an average person and one who becomes a mover and shaker.  Rav Kahane, even after he became a rabbi, had to supplement his family’s income.  Reading the book, Libby tells of the time when he was a sports writer, a taxi driver, and did the mundane things any ‘average’ person would take on to get extra income.  He even worked delivering news papers to supplement his family’s income.  And yet, not having any more super powers than you or I were born with, he rose above one’s mundane life and changed the course of history, whether it was local anti-Semitism on New York streets, or the plight of soviet Jews, or making aliyah and eventually getting voted into the Knesset and shaking up Israeli politics.

And he did get people’s attention.  After starting the JDL and showing the world Jews, not with books and pencils, but with baseball bats ready to pound anti-Semite's heads in, you either loved the man or hated him -as many mainstream Jewish establishments did.  He exposed these Jewish federations for their impotence in really helping the Jewish people other than opening community centers and claiming to be the voice of American Jewry (my interpretation). They weren't his only foes. Arabs feared and hated him, and in the interview, you will hear my first words ever spoken to Rabbi Meir Kahane when I met him in 1978, regarding these Arabs. 

I asked Rabbanit Libby about losing both her husband and youngest child, Binyamin, to Arab bullets.  Her answers were of steel, and you will have to listen to the interview to find out what she said, and wait for Volume II to read about it all in even more detail. (Volume one covers up to 1975.)

I believe that for us, the main thrust of her ten years of documentation and research into this book of Rav Kahane’s life,  basically points to this: What legacy will we leave here on Earth when our time comes to meet our maker?  We see how, though Rabbi Kahane died over a decade ago, he still lives on today.  He predicted so many of the troubles we now face today in the world.  You see the acknowledgment of his foresight and wisdom by Israelis today through the graffiti sprawled on walls all over Israel:  “Kahane was right”.

FYI, I thought you might enjoy viewing this debate between Rabbi Kahane and Ehud Olmert which took place about 20 years ago.  Who would have imagined that one day Ehud Olmert would be Prime Minister?

Getting back to the book, if you want to leave your safe, but doldrum life, without leaving your La-Z-Boy recliner, this book will take you there.  It will surely touch you on the inside and make you a better person, Jew or Gentile. 
Buy this book. Click HERE (or look for it at your book stores). By next week or so, you should be getting it in the mail. It will be your 'Passover' present to yourself or a loved one.  … And if you were ever involved with the JDL or Rabbi Kahane, you just might find yourself in the photos included in the book or in her lengthy index of people she mentions who intersected with Rav Kahane’s life.

p.s.  If you have a personal memory, photo, or story to tell about the Rav Kahane Z”L, please write it down and email the Rabbanit Libby Kahane at:  MrsLkahan@yahoo.com She just might include it in her next book, Volume II.