Rav Nissim Karelitz Passes Away, Tens Of Thousands Attend Bnei Brak Funeral

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Rabbi Nissim Karelitz was the chairman of the beis din tzedek (rabbinical court) of Bnei Brak (Photo by Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

BNEI BRAK (VosIzNeias) — Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, the nephew of the Chazon Ish who founded an internationally renowned Beis Din and was known as one of the leading Poskim of our generation, passed away Monday night aged 93.

Tens of thousands of people attended the funeral of Rabbi  Karelitz. The funeral procession left at 12:00 from Rabbi Akiva Street in Bnei Brak, heading toward the cemetery on Hazon Ish Street, where the Rabbi will be buried. Many streets were blocked to traffic in Bnei Brak, and large police forces escorted the funeral.

Many public figures paid tribute to Karelitz upon news of his passing, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau, and the heads of the Charedi parties, among others.

Rabbi Karelitz was a highly respected Posek and the Beis Din he established in Bnei Brak in 1967 was one of the largest and preeminent courts in the Jewish world

The rulings of his court, which counts several dozen rabbinical judges, are widely respected and honored throughout the Jewish world, and deal with Jewish personal status issues, property law, and Jewish conversion. One of the most famous rulings of his court acknowledged in 2011  the Jewish status of the Chueto Jews of Mallorca after they had been separated from the Jewish nation for 500 years after their forced conversion by the Spanish Inquisition.

Indeed, Rabbi Karelitz’s rabbinical court conversions led to an unprecedented rupture in the attitude  of the state to Jewish converts, after the High Court of Justice ruled in 2013 that converts through Karelitz’s court were eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return.

This ruling gave de facto state recognition to the conversions of all Orthodox, independent rabbinical courts for the purposes of citizenship and registry in the Interior Ministry as Jewish, although the Chief Rabbinate continues to refuse to recognize such converts as Jewish for the purposes of marriage.

Rabbi Shmaryahu Yosef Nissim Karelitz was born in 1926 in the town of Kosovo, Belarus to Rabbi Nahum Meir and Batya Karelitz. His mother was the sister of Rabbi Avraham Yishayahu Kareltiz, known as the Hazon Ish, one of the most influential figures in the formation of Chareidi society in the 20th Century.

Rabbi Karelitz moved to Israel in 1935 with his family and married in 1951, after which time he embarked on his rabbinical career, teaching in various yeshivas, including an appointment to head the Hazon Ish Kollel after the death of his father in 1958, as well as serving as Rabbi of the Heligman Shul in Bnei Brak.

In 1967 he established his rabbinical court which he headed for some 45 years, and was appointed to the Council of Torah Sages of the Agudat Yisrael organization in 1976 which represented all ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel at the time, with the exception of those associated with the Edah Haredit.

Rabbi Karelitz was hospitalized in the Maayanei Yeshua hospital in Bnei Brak on the eve of Yom Kippur, and passed away there Monday night.

President Reuven Rivlin eulogized him ,stating that “his teachings, his modesty and his humility were his signature, which was one of truth which he carried with him in all his undertakings.”

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement to the press that he was “pained by the passing of the great Torah scholar,” describing Karelitz as “one of the giant arbiters of Jewish law of our generation.”

Netanyahu added that “His special personality and his amazing expertise in Torah and halachic literature created thousands of students who continue his path through great commitment to the Jewish people and its heritage.”

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