Yankel Plitnick and Moshe Levinger
Yankel Plitnick and Moshe Levinger courtesy

Photo: Yankel Plitnick greeting the legendary Moshe Levinger, builder of Jewish Hevron, November 2008

If it were possible for someone to choose the time they’d like to leave this world at a ripe old age, and be taken for burial in the land they loved, Yankel Plitnick might well have chosen this weekend of parshat Chayei Sarah which describes Abraham's purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs from the Hittites as a burial spot for his beloved wife Sarah.

Because in better times he would have flown to Israel last Thursday to join the tens of thousands who come annually to liberated Hevron to stand at the very spot that the Torah reading of the week describes. .

Instead dear Yankel z’l passed away in London on Thursday afternoon at the age of 97. He leaves behind a legacy of charitable endowments across Israel which helped build schools, orphanages and community centres from Netanya to Zichron Yaakov, and Yokneam to Kiryat Arba.

Born in England, the son of Liverpool’s chief rabbi, his mother hailed from the esteemed Landinsky family which had roots in the Yeshiva of the Chafetz Chaim in Radin and branches in the founding of the English yeshiva town of Gateshead.

Yankel became a successful businessman and, after the 1973 war, became a staunch supporter of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria.

He later partnered Bet El founder ‘Ketzaleh’ (Yaakov Katz) in the formation of Gush Emunim and the financing of Arutz Sheva’s successful off-shore radio ship in the late ‘80s, which is how Arutz Sheva broadcasting began and continued for 22 years until raided and shut by Israel's government under Ariel Sharon.

Arutz Sheva boat ship MV Tzvi
Arutz Sheva boat ship MV Tzvi Israelnationalnews

At that time, Israel’s Left-wing establishment had all three major Hebrew newspapers in their hands, as well as the two main television channels and almost all of the radio stations. The only dissenting voice for the Right and the promotion of ‘greater Israel’ was being broadcast from the ‘MV Eretz Hatzvi’ anchored just outside Israel’s territorial waters. From such choppy beginnings Arutz Sheva grew into the formidable media presence it is today.

Yankel lived and worked all his life in England, using his business success to provide support to local causes as well as promoting the ideology of Jabotinsky and Begin in pro-Israel activism and advocacy in the UK.

Although never married with children of his own, Yankel built up an extended family of many hundreds of young people through his founding and leadership of the Hendon Adath youth minyan near his home in northwest London. To them he was their ‘Uncle Yankel’ - now sorely missed but with many fond memories.

Yankel is survived by his sister in Lakewood and will be laid to rest on Sunday in Beit Shemesh. יהי זכרו ברוך, RIP

Zalmi Unsdorfer is Chairman Likud-Herut UK