Thousands of mourners took part in the funeral procession of Rabbi Menachem Porush, the beloved hareidi-religious politician and man of charity who passed away Sunday night at the age of 94.

His son Meir, who has been a Knesset Member ever since 1996, sobbingly eulogized his father.

In his last public appearance, less than an hour before he died, Rabbi Porush took part in the annual “Seventh of Adar” event held by the Chevra Kadisha burial societies. Rabbi Porush, who once served as president of one of Jerusalem’s Chevra Kadishas, insisted on speaking, despite his weakness, and blessed and congratulated them on their sacred work. He arrived home shortly afterwards and suffered his sudden, fatal heart attack.

In addition to the oft-told story of Rabbi Porush’s tearful plea on behalf of Rachel’s Tomb, which resulted in its being retained in Israeli territory, less well-known are his tears on behalf of Gush Katif before the Disengagement/expulsion in 2005. At an emergency meeting of rabbis in his home shortly before the expulsion, Rabbi Porush burst out in tears and said:

“I don’t remember any time in the past 80 years that thousands of Jewish families have been thrown out of their homes, amidst the destruction of 25 Jewish towns and the destruction of tens of synagogues and yeshivas, and the desecration of graves. Even in Russia there was nothing like this… The Patriarch Abraham asked for mercy on Sodom and Gomorrah, that perhaps 50, or 20, or 10 righteous people could be found – and here we have towns full of Torah and fear of G-d… We have to pray for them and annul the decree.” As a result, a unified religious front organized a massive prayer service the next day at the Western Wall, with the participation of hareidi, Religious-Zionist, Sephardic and other rabbis of all streams.

Imbued the nation with Judaism

President Shimon Peres, who shared the same national political scene for decades, eulogized Rabbi Porush at the deceased’s home on Monday morning, saying, “I participate in the mourning of the family and Agudat Yisrael [the party that was Porush's political home - ed.] for former MK Rabbi Menachem Porush. He was a believer, a real Jerusalem lover, as determined and firm as one of its rocks, and worked to unite the nation. He was one of the most diligent, industrious and dynamic people that Israel has known – always active, always supporting, always helping those in need. For years and decades he worked to strengthen the world of Torah, to imbue the nation with Judaism, and to bring secular and religious closer together… His big and compassionate heart stopped suddenly, but his activities will remain forever.”

Addressing the deceased, Peres said, “Menachem my friend, you were full of vision and hope for the Jewish Nation. You loved the nation and attempted to bridge the gaps… You never wasted a moment. You gave every minute for the public… You were graced with a shining countenance and love for people…”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu released this statement: “Rabbi Porush was a pillar of the hareidi public in Israel… He served in the Knesset from the 4th through the 13th Knessets [from 1959 until 1994] consecutively… The Nation of Israel has lost today a precious, warm, wise, loving Jew, and one of the best public leaders it had. We grieve his passing.”

All photos by Refael Ovadia / Kuvien Images:

Mourning notice for Rabbi Porush

Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, at left, arrives at funeral

Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman, Mayor Nir Barkat, Minister Avishai Braverman

MK Michael Ben Ari (NU), with light blue kippah

Performing the kri'ah: the ritual tearing of the shirt by the mourning family

Children look on

Traffic held up for funeral