Hundreds paid tribute on Monday to Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neriya, 17 years after the passing of the founder of Bnei Akiva religious high schools
“We came here to draw strength” from his teaching and stature, said his son, Rabbi Nachum Neriya. “His way was to mend the tears in the fabric” of Israeli society, he added at the memorial ceremony in Kfar Haroeh, near Netanya, where the first of his yeshivas was founded.
Members of the community, rabbis, students and former students participated, including the Dean (Rosh Yeshiva) of Ohr Etzion Hesder yeshiva and the Bnei Akiva Yeshiva network, former MK Rabbi Chaim Druckman, as well as past and present deans of Bnei Akiva yeshivas.
Rabbi Eliezer Simcha Weiss, rabbi of Kfar Haroeh and of the Emek Hefer Regional Council, recalled a moving memory of Rabbi Neriya.
“Rabbi Neriya had the ability to speak to all members of society,” he said. "One day, I saw tears in his eyes after talking with him about a child who was in the process of converting to Judaism. He was full of emotion and happiness for every individual, especially those who came from the world of darkness to the Land of Israel.”
Citing the Torah portion Vayeshev that is read this week, Rabbi Weiss add, “Our Torah sages teach us that Joseph the Righteous drew strength from his standing the test at the House of Potiphar,” where he resisted efforts by the wife of one of Pharaoh’s officers to seduce him after he was sold into the service of her husband. He was sentenced to the dungeon for her false allegations but continued to express his faith in G-d.
“We came here today to unite with Rabbi Neriya and with our memories to draw strength for learning and teaching Torah, how to pray, love Torah, the people of Israel, and the Land of Israel, all of which were part of his heart and soul,” he said.
The memorial ceremony with participants singing a song whose words the rabbi wrote and sang as he returned his sould to G-d, “Holiness, Holiness, I seek. Give me the holiness of the Land of Israel. Give me the holiness of the love of Israel.”
Rabbi Neriya founded the first Israeli yeshiva to combine serious Torah studies and matriculation curricula in a religious Zionist framework. Up to that point, there were non-religious high schools, religious schools with minimal Torah studies and hareidi yeshivas without matriculation.. The pilot yeshiva of Kfar Haroeh grew to become a network with tens of thousands of graduates who take part in every facet of life in Israel.