Rabbi Benny Eisner
Rabbi Benny EisnerCourtesy

The yeshiva community in Israel and the United States, including flagship Religious Zionist yeshivot Merkaz HaRav and Har HaMor, as well as Yeshiva University programs in Israel, are mourning the loss of Rabbi Benny Eisner z”l, who passed away on Shabbat after a battling cancer all summer.

Rav Benny, as he was affectionately called by his many students, was one of the mainstays of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav and taught at several institutions, including Shavei Hevron, Machon Meir and the elite Bnei David pre-military academy in Eli. As one of the founders of the Noam religious Zionist school system, he was also closely involved in childhood education.

A fierce advocate of Jewish rights to the entire Land of Israel, Rav Benny lived with his family in Jerusalem's mostly Arab Abu Tor neighborhood.

Rav Benny was born on Har Hatzofim (Mount Scopus) in Jerusalem and attended high school on Kibbutz Yavneh.

He fought in three of Israel's wars, including the 1967 Six Day War in which he was among the soldiers who liberated the Tomb of the Matriarch Rachel in Bethlehem. At the time, he famously declared "Rachel! Rachel! You can cease to cry! Your children have returned!"

Rav Benny was a close and beloved student of Rav Zvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook z"l, who served as a spiritual inspiration to an entire generation of Religious Zionist leaders. Rav Benny began his teaching career at Kibbutz Yavneh and later Ohr Etzion, Rabbi Druckman's yeshiva.

He went on to teach at BMT and Merkaz HaRav Letzi'irim (Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva's high school) and was said to have been deeply affected by the murder of eight students and wounding of ten during a terror attack at the school in 2008.

In the 1980's, Rav Benny founded "Shalach Et Ami" (Let my People Go) to struggle for the release of Prisoner of Zion Anatoly Sharansky from the Soviet Union. The Eisner and Sharansky families have remained close to this day.

Rav Benny was buried in the Jewish cemetery on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives on Saturday night following a funeral attended by thousands of people.

He is survived by his wife Sarah, 11 children and many grandchildren. May his family be comforted among those who mourn for Zion and Jerusalem.