Olmert Eulogizes 'Exceptional' Ultra-Orthodox MK Ravitz

Degel Hatorah chairman who passed away at age 75 had been hospitalized for heart problems.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday eulogized Degel Hatorah Chairman Avraham Ravitz, calling him a wise and practical figure who merged Jewish tradition with public life.

Ravitz, who died on Monday at age 75, was laid to rest in the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem. Thousands of people attended the funeral.

The veteran MK was one of the most dominant representatives and sharpest speakers of the Haredi community.

Olmert said that Ravitz struck "a delicate balance between an uncompromising loyalty to Jewish tradition and a practical sense as befitted a man who knew that in the world of public life there is no single absolute truth but compromises regarding what is possible, correct, desirable and beneficial for the Jewish People."

Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilani and Shas chief Eli Yishai were among the dignitaries in attendance.

President Shimon Peres described Ravitz as "a wise Torah sage who taught many, and he knew how to balance the highest-quality Torah instruction with public service."

Ravitz had suffered from a heart condition and had been hospitalized since early January. In November, he announced his decision to retire at the end of the current Knesset term. He said he would carry on as head of the party and continue his service to the public.

During his legislative career, Ravitz represented the United Torah Judaism and Degel Hatorah parties and served as chairman of parliament's powerful Finance Committee.

He also served as deputy minister in the housing, education and welfare ministries and deputy speaker of parliament.

Ravitz, a qualified rabbi, was born in Tel Aviv but grew up in Jerusalem and was a graduate of a yeshiva seminary in Hebron. He was a member of the pre-state Jewish underground Lehi, and later served in the Israel Defense Forces.

Before his election to the Knesset, Ravitz headed the capital's Or Sameah yeshiva, which specializes in outreach activities.