Naftali Bennett, Rabbi Ronsky
Naftali Bennett, Rabbi RonskyFlash 90

Over the past several days, hundreds of Israeli trekkers have passed through the home of Rabbi Avichai Rontzki, former IDF Chief Rabbi and head of the Itamar Yeshiva, who is spending several months in the Far East.

Many of them, Rabbi Rontzki told Arutz Sheva in an interview, have been in or near Nepal, and were familiar with the scenes of destruction from the devastating earthquake that occurred just days ago.

Rabbi Rontzki is currently in northern India, west of Nepal. "When we heard about the earthquake on Saturday night, the locals told us that several dozen people in our area were missing as well. But in a country with nearly a billion residents, they have their own worries, so the Nepal tragedy is not a top headline.”

Some Israelis have been in touch with him from home, asking if now was the right time to take a trip to India. “Some of them fear that there will be aftershocks, but we Israelis have gone through many things, so we are not afraid,” he said.

Many of the Israelis who come to India do so not for a vacation, but on a spiritual pilgrimage. “We hold some serious discussions here,” he said. “Many of those who come here want to learn Indian spirituality, whether it is Hinduism or Buddhism. Many of them are high quality people, including IDF officers, pilots, and others. It's hard for me to accept that they come here for 'the truth' – which is really back at home, in our Torah.”

Moving to a discussion of the news back home, Rabbi Rontzki asserted Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett would be a good choice for Education Minister. 

“He needs to demand that he be given the power to institute courses for Jewish identity in all schools. Meretz and Haaretz probably won't like it, but it must be done. We cannot be bashful, we must demand this in our coalition negotiations. Jewish identity is one of the most important things we can ask for in a coalition deal,” he stressed.