Tens of Thousands Attend Funeral of Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, Influential Figure in Israeli ultra-Orthodox World

The rabbi, who headed a private rabbinical court that operated outside the state's judicial system, was hailed as 'the greatest Halachic authority of his generation'

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
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Rabbi Nissim Karelitz
Rabbi Nissim Karelitz Credit: Shuki lerer
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Tens of thousands took part in a funeral procession for Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, who was considered one of the most important rabbis in the ultra-Orthodox world. He was aged 93. 

The rabbi was laid to rest on Tuesday noon in Bnei Brak, and several roads were closed to traffic in the predominantly ultra-Orthodox city. Karelitz headed a private rabbinical court in Bnei Brak, which operates outside of the state's judicial system.

Karelitz was a member of Degel Hatorah's Council of Torah Sages, and deemed by the Haredi media "as the greatest Halachic authority of his generation.''

His son, rabbi Avraham Yeshayu Karelitz, said of his father at the funeral ceremony: "For many years we were orphans, but we had the father protecting us. Now we also lost the father. All his life he hid himself to the point that in the end I did not know him myself," he said. Kanievsky's son-in-law, Rabbi  Gershon Rosenberg, also eulogized him: "He was never interested in [high] salaries, and when he received his salary from the municipality, he refused to take a penny from the kollel [yeshiva for married men]."

The funeral procession started in Rabbi Akiva Street, the town's main artery. Traffic in Bnei Brak was blocked until 3 P.M. and public transport was also affected.

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, leader of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community in Israel, ordered all yeshiva students to attend the procession. In addition, most business owners in Bnei Brak were instructed to close their shops while Karelitz was laid to rest.

Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the head of the Ponevezh yeshiva in Bnei Brak, said Karelitz "had deep understanding in education and the knowledge how to educate the young generation."