New Book Highlights Rabbi Kook's Connection to Hebron

Hebron in the Eyes of Rabbi Kook by Dr. Noam Arnon published.

16.8.23, 13:07
Dr. Noam Arnon, spokesperson for the Jewish community of Hebron and a noted historian and scholar of the city has released a new book entitled Hebron in the Eyes of Rabbi Kook: Seeing the Light in the City of the Ancestors.

Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook was the first Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel serving until his passing in 1935. His ideology which combined Zionism with Torah thought and yeshiva study made him an influential figure for the generation of Israelis who liberated Hebron and other areas of Judea and Samaria in 1967.

Dr. Arnon spoke to Israel National News about his new research. He explained that the idea for the book began when he was asked to write and article following the terrorist murder of Rabbi Shomo Raanan in Hebron, one of Rabbi Kook’s grandsons. “I began to discover material,” Dr. Arnon stated. “There was a spiritual connection between Rabbi Kook and Hebron. He was one of the most important spiritual leaders in the beginning of the 20th century at a time the community was going through a very difficult situation.”

Rabbi Kook was instrumental in bringing the large and prestigious Slabodka yeshiva from Lithuania to Hebron in 1924. The move revitalized the city, but the 1929 riots resulted in the entire Jewish community being forced out. Out of the 69 people murdered in the riots, 24 were Slabodka students. Rabbi Kook personally held himself responsible, however Dr. Arnon explained that he made great efforts to revive the community.

“He encouraged the people,” Dr. Arnon said. He told a story about a survivor of the massacre, Mina Orlansky. Her sister Rachel Orlansky married Yaakov Bronstein Brosh in Tel Aviv. The post-wedding Sheva Brachot celebration was supposed to take place in Hebron, so Mina, the youngest daughter joined her parents, Rabbi Avraham Yaakov and Yente Orlansky to Hebron to celebrate with daughter Hannah and son-in-law Eliezer Dan Slonim. Due to the security situation, the bride and groom were unable to arrive in Hebron. When the rioters came to attack the Slonim home, Mina was saved when a Slabodka yeshiva student named Yekutiel Koshlevsky who pushed her into a side room. Koshlevsky was wounded in the leg by a dagger. The rest of her family were killed.

“Rabbi Kook took it upon himself to rehabilitate this girl,” Dr. Arnon explained. Rabbi Kook vowed that she would grow up to marry a Torah scholar and arranged a match between the orphaned young woman and the man who saved her. Yekutiel Koshlevsky, changed his last name to Azrieli, married Mina and became the chief rabbi of Zichron Yaakov. The two were spiritual leaders of the community for over 60 years.

This is one of the stories in Dr. Arnon’s new book which he sees as an example of Rabbi Kook's ability to take care of individuals within the broader national issues that took place.

Arnon said he remembers as a child the period when Jews were banned from entering Hebron as it was then part of Jordanian territory and the dramatic Six Day War when the city was finally opened. He notes that it was students of Rabbi Kook’s son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, who worked to reestablish the community.  

“I wake up every day living a vision,” Arnon said. “I belong to a generation that could only dream of Hebron and the Kotel and Rahel’s Tomb, and I wake up every day to be a part of the dream of the fulfillment of the return. Today our generation is implementing the vision.”

Dr. Arnon is also the author of HaMaarah: Discoveries and Studies at the Cave of Machpela and Hebron and 4,000 years & 40: The Story of the City of the Patriarchs. His doctoral thesis was on archeological research at the Cave of Machpela and he is one of the few people to have descended inside the cave.  
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