Gush Katif evacuee appointed Ashkelon Chief Rabbi

Rabbi Ophir Cohen, head of the Ashkelon religious community, was chosen as the new Chief Rabbi of Ashkelon.

Yoel Domb,

Rabbi Ophir Cohen
Rabbi Ophir Cohen
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Rabbi Ophir Cohen, former head of the Tenufah Administrative body established to help Gush Katif evacuees, was appointed the new Chief Rabbi of Ashkelon.

Rabbi Cohen has also led a group of young families who established a religious Zionist community within one of Ashkelon's predominantly secular neighborhoods as part of a countrywide program known as the "Torah nuclear project."

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Rabbi Cohen expressed his hope that more and more religious Zionist rabbis would serve in community rabbinic positions.

"I received my appointment today with a profound sense of responsibility" said Cohen. "I have already spent 10 years in the Ashkelon nuclear group and as with other nuclear Torah groupsi around the country, there is great growth and development here and there is room for more spiritual growth as well."

Arutz Sheva: What is the importance of being rabbi of a city in Israel today?

"It's very important, especially for a religious Zionist rabbi to continue the work that our rabbis have been doing and to connect with all sectors of the people."

Rav Cohen was evacuated with his family from Gush Katif in the 2005 Disengagement. A few years before the expulsion, three of his children lost limbs in a bomb blast on a children's bus near Kfar Darom. He sees a strong connection between the past and the present.

"The sense of a mission and a connection to the Jewish nation, the feeling that the attitude towards settlement and the land of Israel has changed - all this gives me the strength and the will to serve as a rabbi in Israel.

Rabbi Cohen sees the main activity of a rabbi as working with the community and the family, youth work, educational work and marital issues. "I don't just deal with issues relating to the religious community and I work with the general community using the power of the Torah to connect to everyone. We need spirit among the people, faith in our way, faith in the state and in our mission."


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