Moshe Moskowitz –Moshko” - served as director of the Heichal Shlomo Foundation for many years, in addition to the role he played in establishing Yeshivat Har Etzion (“the Gush”) and Herzog College. Recently Herzog College joined forces with Heichal Shlomo in offering post-graduate degree courses in Jerusalem and establishing the UnitEd Project to train Jewish Studies teachers in partnership with the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.

Wednesday’s ceremony was chaired by the President of the State of Israel Mr. Isaac Herzog, who reflected on his unique connection with the venue. His grandfather, Israel’s first Chief Rabbi Yitzchak (Isaac) HaLevy Herzog, was instrumental in building Heichal Shlomo as a spiritual center for the Jewish people in the new city of Jerusalem. After his death, Rabbi Herzog’s study was relocated within the Heichal Shlomo Museum as a living memorial.

Speaking at the ceremony at the Museum, the President said: “My illustrious grandfather had a dream that this building would be the headquarters for Israel’s Chief Rabbinate. Sir Isaac Wolfson* turned this dream into reality. For many years it has been a symbol, in the heart of the Holy City, reflecting both the Torah and the State of Israel. It is no surprise that I feel very emotional here. The memory of my grandfather is engraved on the stones of this building. Entering his study, I sense that holiness. When I see the text of the Prayer for the State of Israel in his handwriting – the same text that hangs on the wall in my own office – I reflect on the generations of Jews who dreamed of living at a time when we could pray for the Jewish government in our own land.

“On a national level, Heichal Shlomo, and particularly its Museum, connect the history of the Jewish people through the generations with our present and our future. The uniqueness of this Museum is the combination of the paintings and the Judaica exhibits, which are part and parcel of the greater Jewish heart. The “Faith and Prayer” collection exhibited here includes precious memories of families and individuals; it is thanks to their faith that we survived the darkness of exile and were privileged to return home."

יצחק הרצוג בהיכל שלמה
יצחק הרצוג בהיכל שלמהצילום: שריה דיאמנט

During their tour of the remodeled Museum, President Herzog and his wife Michal were shown the famous study of Chief Rabbi Herzog, where visitors to the Museum can learn about his achievements and some of the challenges that he faced while serving as Chief Rabbi, scientist and statesman. They were accompanied on their tour by the Director of the Museum, Shlomit Sebag, by the Dean of Herzog College, Dr. Ezra Kahalani, and by Rabbi Baruch Gigi, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion and a member of the directorate of Heichal Shlomo and Herzog College.

The President eulogized Moshe Moskowitz saying: “Last year we lost our dear friend Moshko, who was a connection to the memory of my honored grandfather with whom he was friends from their time together on Kibbutz Masu’ot Yitzchak. He worked humbly all his life, in the tradition of Moses and Aaron. Thanks are due to all those who are continuing his efforts, including Rav Meir Nehorai at Heichal Shlomo, Rav Shlomo Brin and Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Brandes at Herzog College, and all those involved in meeting the needs of the community in good faith.”

Rav Meir Nehorai, Rav of Masu’ot Yitzchak, who has served in recent years as head of the Heichal Shlomo Foundation, spoke about continuing Moshko’s work, and the parallels between him and Rav Herzog – their work for the community alongside their unceasing Torah learning, and their commitment to the Jewish people throughout their lives, particularly during the years of the Shoah. Rav Nehorai described Rav Herzog’s efforts to persuade world leaders to take action to save Jews from the concentration camps, and Moshko’s efforts many years later to rescue Torah scrolls that had been saved from the conflagration, stained with the blood of European Jewry, and bring them to the Museum as testimony. He explained: “In recent years, Herzog College has taken on the management of Heichal Shlomo, updating the building and expanding its activities. Today it is once again a significant and influential building. Working together with Herzog College, we are realizing the dream of Rav Herzog.”

Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Brandes, President of Herzog College, described the deep commitment of both Moshko and Rav Herzog to their dreams, and the practical steps that the College is taking to realize those dreams at Heichal Shlomo and in Gush Etzion. “In his master plan, Moshko presented the College as an institution of higher education placed in the center of Gush Etzion and the communities of the area. Herzog College’s recent transition to full membership in Israel’s Council of Higher Education will allow us to further develop our campuses in Gush Etzion in the spirit of the Moshko’s ideology. We are breathing new life into this center of Jewish tradition, as envisioned by Rav Herzog at its founding, fulfilling another of Moshko’s dreams.

“Alongside the College’s Masters’ degree courses, Heichal Shlomo also hosts our Continuing Education program for the wider community, that brings in a broad cross-section of the Israeli public. Last year, we also took a giant leap forward in working with world Jewry, when we took on a joint project with the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs to support the teachers and principals of 1,500 Jewish day schools around the world.

“This is the best way to commemorate the lives of visionaries and activists - to continue their work and fulfill their dreams.”