Tribute to Rav Avichai Ronsky, z'l - Leading the Charge

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House ( and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives ( He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

Rav Avichai Ronsky, z'l, recently passed away after a valiant battle with cancer. (Important to note that the cancer was found during tests when the Rav attempted to donate a kidney) Since this tragedy happened in the month of Nissan, I thought it proper to wait until the next month to write a proper tribute to the Rosh Yeshiva/Chief Rabbi. 

Rav Ronsky was a man who was ahead of his time. He saw things that others did not yet see and worked tirelessly and heroically to further those dreams. In the future, we will see even more clearly that he was right and a prophetic pioneer. As in everything he did, he was out in front, leading the charge. 

I would like to highlight 3 prominent examples:

-Returning to religious observance. While still serving in the army, in elite units and in positions of leadership, Rav Ronsky began the path of returning to keeping the traditions of the Jewish People. This included studying in yeshivas. Although all professional doors were open to him after his distinguished military career, he chose to dedicate precious years to acquiring Torah knowledge. (Naftali Bennett and similar folks should take notice!)

-Settling the Shomron (Itamar and Elon Moreh). Rav Ronsky was very involved in the establishment of the yeshiva in Elon Moreh and both the community and yeshiva in Itamar, both overlooking the historic city of Shechem. There were many tough times in those areas during both violent intifadas, and the yeshivas provided the spiritual strength for the communities to endure and grow. In the near future, G-d willing, we will see a radical transformation of the entire area into a vibrant, thriving Jewish metropolis. We should remember that Rav Ronsky was a big part of making that happen! 

-The Israeli Army. As Chief Rabbi of the Israeli Army, Rav Ronsky ignored conventional "wisdom" and reached out to all soldiers. Too often the chaplains in the Army see their jobs as serving only the "religious soldiers". Rav Ronsky was a rabbi for all the soldiers, constantly offering ways towards better knowledge and observance of Judaism. The best way that he did this was by leading by example - including leading the soldiers into Gaza in Operation Cast Lead. Today, anti-religious forces within the Army continue to battle against Rav Ronsky's many accomplishments. However, their struggle is futile and Rav Ronsky's legacy will live on and continue to strengthen, well after his passing. 

Of course, for all of these things, the anti-Jewish left hated the Rabbi with a passion. There is hardly any better tribute than that. 

His Memory Should be for a Blessing

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem