A VOICE OF PEACE SILENCED IN THE WEST BANK WITH THE PASSING OF RABBI FROMAN

A settler, a rabbi with a conscience
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As I write this, Rabbi Menachem Froman, Chief Rabbi of the settlement Tekoa is being lowered into his grave at the settlement which he helped found. He died last night at the young age of 68 after a long battle with cancer. Rabbi Froman was a unique man, a man of peace in a land of war. His voice, his views, his love for his fellow man will be missed.

 When asked what he would like to leave behind as his legacy, Froman answered with one word: “Peace.”

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It’s not every day that a religious Jewish leader of a West Bank settlement sits with an esteemed Associate of DesertPeace, but five years ago that actually happened. Rabbi Menachem Froman of the settlement Tekoa spent the day with Khalid Amayreh and collaborated on a Peace Plan for Israel/Palestine. The plan was accepted by Hamas, the ruling Party of Palestine, but needless to say was rejected by the Israeli government.
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In the following video, Rabbi Froman’s views are heard regarding Jews living in proximity with Palestinians, a view not shared by most other settlers or Israeli rabbis.
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Rabbi Menachem Froman of West Bank settlement Tekoa dies at 68

Froman dies following prolonged illness; he was unique among settler rabbis in that he was a leading proponent of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

By Yair Ettinger
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Rabbi Menachem Froman
Rabbi Menachem Froman. Photo by Ilya Melnikov

Rabbi Menachem Froman died on Monday at the age of 68, following a prolonged illness.

Froman, rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, was unique among settler rabbis in that he was a leading proponent of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue as far back as the 1980s, when contact with the PLO was still illegal. He was the spiritual leader of many young people and was known for his extensive contacts with people from a wide range of ideological circles. He was in constant contact with politicians, military leaders and in particular artists including writers, musicians and actors. More recently, he championed the idea of dialogue between Jewish and Islamic religious leaders as a path to peace, in which context he held intensive talks with religious leaders from both Hamas and Israel’s Islamic Movement.

In recent years, Froman launched several religious peace organizations. He also developed close ties with a wide range of people who spanned the political and ideological gamut, including army officers, politicians and, above all, creative artists from the worlds of literature, music and theater.

Froman suffered from cancer of the large intestine and is survived by his wife, Hadassah, and 10 children. He was born in Kfar Hasidim near Haifa. He went to high school at the Reali School in Haifa, served in the paratroopers during the Six-Day War and after the army gradually became more and more religious. He began studying in various yeshivot including Merkaz Harav alongside a number of other students who, like Froman, became the leaders of the settler movement Gush Emunim. He was ordained as a rabbi by former Chief Rabbis Shlomo Goren and Avraham Shapira. He served as the rabbi of Kibbutz Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion.

He was one of the founders of Tekoa and helped make the settlement a mixed community of religious and nonreligious centered around a mixed school run by his wife Hadassah.

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Ilya Melnikov

Photo by Ilya Melnikov    Menachem and Hadassah Froman.

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He was a self-proclaimed nonconformist among the rabbis of the territories, and paid a price for it. In the 1980s, after the Jewish terrorist underground was exposed and the first intifada began, Froman came out openly in favor of a dialogue with Palestinian leaders as well as granting political rights and national symbols to the Palestinian people. Many in Gush Emunim tried to remove him from the organization and his post.

During the second intifada he traveled throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and even went to Jordan, speaking to Palestinian leaders, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Mahmoud Al-Zahar from Hamas. He became more politically active in his last years, leading movements of young settlers who did not hesitate to criticize the occupation. Froman saw no contradiction between the settlements and striving for peace, and often said “the settlements are the fingers of the Israeli hand held out for peace.” He saw the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as mainly religious and saw a common bond with Islamic religious leaders. He viewed the nationalist-territorial conflict as secondary and did not rule out the continued existence of the settlements under Palestinian sovereignty.

As a rabbi, he concentrated mostly on Hassidic and mystical literature. He taught in yeshivot that were forerunners of the Hassidic wave in religious Zionist circles.

He cooperated with other rabbis known for their independent thinking, such as Adin Steinsaltz and Shimon Gershon Rosenberg, better known as Rav Shagar.

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In an interview with Ayelett Shani in Haaretz Magazine last July, Froman said that he was willing to live under Palestinian sovereignty.

“I met with someone who is very close to the prime minister, and he told me that the solution I am proposing is also the solution he has envisaged for years, from the political viewpoint, and that he is working to persuade the prime minister,” he told Haaretz.

“We came to Tekoa to take part in that: to participate in the establishment of a mixed community. With the intention that I want to learn, to receive. I do not want to give. I do not work for my truth. I work for the sake of the general truth, the objective truth. In the final analysis, the question is whether you abnegate yourself before God or you represent him. And I abnegate myself before God.” 

As to whether he thought he was crazy or had doubts about the path he took, Froman said: “Many crazy people, I think, don’t think they are crazy. Things will be good − if things will be good and there is peace. It has to materialize. A life of supplication; you have a great profit from that. You ask whether it is worthwhile, but of course it is worthwhile. A life of humility. … To accept is tremendous joy.

Because then the objective good or the objective truth speak through you. It is not only you and your thoughts. It might be expressed in a possibly cruel way. What Rachel writes is terribly cruel. Moses does not enter the land. But the nation enters. If there is someone who does not fulfill [a particular task], someone else will do it. Maybe my son,” he said.

When asked what he would like to leave behind as his legacy, Froman answered with one word: “Peace.”

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An obituary from Ynet can be read HERE

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The Forward  posted THIS about Rabbi Froman

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Here are two more videos showing his solidarity work between Jews and Palestinians, followed by additional photos ….

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Tributes from The Jerusalem Post
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Tributes paid to Froman as rabbi laid to rest
By JPOST.COM STAFF, JEREMY SHARON 
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Funeral of Menachem Froman, March 5, 2013
Funeral of Menachem Froman, March 5, 2013 Photo: JEREMY SHARON

Hundreds of mourners turned out Tuesday to honor settler and activist Menachem Froman, the rabbi from the Tekoa settlement who was seen by many as an advocate for peace and dialogue with the Palestinians. He was laid to rest at Tekoa a day after he died at the age of 68 after a long battle with cancer.
The funeral began with a procession from the Tekoa synagogue, as hundreds gathered outside to sing a lament at his passing. 

Speaking at the funeral, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon of Likud paid tribute to Froman and his efforts to find a solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. “You believed with all your heart in peace between humanity. You did everything to build bridges between people,” Ya’alon said.

In a written eulogy, President Shimon Peres also honored Froman’s role as a man of faith who embraced peace.

Froman’s eldest son Yossi told mourners at the funeral of the love that his father enjoyed across the Israeli political spectrum, and of his strong ties  to his Arab neighbors. “Left and right, everyone loved you and you loved everyone. Your approach to our Arab neighbors was with love,” he said.

Froman was “a unique man who was a big believer in the Torah and a believer in peace,” wrote Peres. “His whole life was peace, and all his pathways were peace.” The president said that Froman had “found a way in to the hearts of bitter and difficult enemies and wherever there was conflict he tried to settle it with great spirit and wisdom.”

MK Aliza Lavie of Yesh Atid also paid tribute to the rabbi, saying, “We have lost us a man whose vision was ahead of his time. Rabbi Menachem Froman, of blessed memory, firmly believed that religion is a bridge to true peace between all the residents of the country.”

 

Peace activist and Jerusalem Post columnist Gershon Baskin paid tribute to Froman on his Facebook page on Monday, hailing the rabbi as someone who always strove to achieve peace. He cited a meeting that the rabbi had with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu two months ago when he tried to convince the PM to engage Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in serious negotiations.“I did not share his faith in God, but I shared his passion for peace and his willingness to go to the ends of this earth to convince people that we can make peace and that we must make peace in this land,” Baskin wrote.

2 Comments

  1. Zimbabalouie said,

    March 5, 2013 at 19:33

    You honor an honorable man. You are both truly men of peace.

    Thank you for the insight to this man.

  2. March 8, 2013 at 20:31

    [...] A settler, a rabbi with a conscience * As I write this, Rabbi Menachem Froman, Chief Rabbi of the settlement Tekoa is being lowered into his grave at the settlement which he helped found. He died l…  [...]


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