NAME: Frankel, Rabbi Yitzhak

LEHI ALIAS: The Neighborhood Rabbi

DATE OF BIRTH: October 27,1913

DATE OF DEATH: September 8, 1986

Rabbi Frankel was not a Lehi member, but as long as the struggle against the foreign occupier continued, he kept in close contact with the underground movements. His counsel and encouragement were invaluable, and it is fitting for him to appear among these young men and women whom he loved and who so admired him.

He was born on October 27,1913, in Łęczyca, Poland, to Rabbi Aharon and Leah née Koenig. He studied in cheder and yeshiva in Warsaw. At age seventeen, he received rabbinical ordination.

In 1932, he married Hannah, daughter of Rabbi Hayim Elazar Brand. He became rabbi of Rypin County and became a member of the union of Polish rabbis.

He made aliyah in 1935 and settled in south Tel Aviv. He was appointed the neighborhood rabbi, and he was widely admired by all the Jewish residents, of all communities. He represented the neighborhood before the authorities respectably, and he appeared before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry. He was instrumental in establishing a number of synagogues and a member of the kashrut council of the Ministry of Defense. He filled many more prominent public roles.

In 1938, he appeared at the famous Shabbat Trial, in which Jews were accused of interfering with traffic on the Sabbath. The rabbi publicly sanctified God’s name, and the Jewish defendants were acquitted. The news reported: “Rabbi Frankel teaches the British judge a chapter of the laws of the Sabbath.”

Shortly before the State was established, he was the only rabbi who would go each night to visit the posts of the fighters on the Tel Aviv-Jaffa border. He was even wounded by fire from Abu Kabir. He often settled internecine disputes; he was known as a great peacemaker. He harmonized Torah and public work. This pious man could socialize with Hasidim or hilonim (secular Jews).

After the Altalena incident, when the masses flooded Allenby Street and civil war seemed possible, Chief Rabbis Uziel and Herzog sent Rabbi Frankel to appear. He spoke to their hearts about the dangers of baseless hatred and the need to extend a hand to one’s fellow. His words made quite an impact, and the crowds scattered. Many leaders praised him for this.

After the Bernadotte assassination and the Lehi jailbreak from Jaffa Prison, he once again appeared to prevent bloodshed. The military prosecutor noted “the great service rendered by the Rabbi during these difficult movements…”

Rabbi Frankel helped all the underground members who turned to him. His house was always open to them, and he would officiate at weddings of fugitives who could not officially register their nuptials.

In 1973 he was chosen as the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. He also oversaw the rabbinical courts in the district.

He passed away on September 8,1986, leaving behind a wife, three sons and a daughter (his son, Rabbi Aryeh, predeceased him by a year), as well as numerous grandchildren.

Join our mailing list

הצטרפו לרשימת התפוצה