Reflections on the passing of a great Zionist

  • Rabin
This year on Tisha B’Av is the 31st anniversary since the passing of Chief Rabbi Prof Louis Rabinowitz, zt’l.
by ISAAC REZNIK | Jul 22, 2015

In 1945 this dynamic phenomenon descended on this community after a splendid career in one of London’s large synagogues and a memorable chaplaincy in the British Army in the Second World War.

The community turned out en masse to witness his induction into office in the Great Synagogue amid all the pomp and ceremony that the majestic edifice could muster.

Rabbi Rabinowitz was an impressive figure. When he first arrived he used to dress on Shabbat and Yomtov in the typical London fashion of black morning coat, striped trousers and top hat.

All eyes were turned on him when he walked through the streets of Hillbrow to his home in Parktown.

Rabbi Rabinowitz started to make waves, in fact storms, in the community from the moment of his arrival and continued to do so until the day he left South Africa.

He was a most ardent Zionist and when Britain was putting all possible obstacles in the way of the Yishuv and was trying to thwart the emergence of a Jewish state, he was sharp and vociferous in his condemnation of the British efforts.

Another aspect of his fearlessness was his very open and blatant condemnation of what he saw as the evils of the apartheid system and his sharp criticism of the government’s policy in this regard.

Apartheid, he preached, was an abomination and could not be tolerated, especially by Jews who had known such discrimination and oppression.

After 17 years of loyal and devoted and passionate service, Rabbi Rabinowitz, to the consternation of the community and its leaders, elected to resign and went to live in his beloved Israel. Nothing could deter him from this sacred goal.

The late Rabbi Gerald Mazabow, zt’l a disciple of Rabbi Rabinowitz, published all his speeches and sayings, in a book called “To Reach for the Moon”.

Rabbi Rabinowitz passed on on Tisha B’Av 1984. after an illustrious career in Israel, as deputy mayor of Jerusalem.


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