American Friends of Mercaz HaRav Kook   Back to the Gallery
Beginnings: Founded in 1924 by Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook as a yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Ideology: "To promote the philosophy of Rabbi Abraham Hacohen Kook," which promotes the settler movement.

Noted For: Being a conservative "national-religious camp" that houses 500 yeshiva students and 200 kollel (advanced studies) members.

Key Leaders of Mercaz HaRav Kook: Rabbi Zvi Tau, Rabbi Avraham Shapira

Key Leaders of American Friends of Mercaz HaRav Kook: Lazer Apfeldorf, Pearl Apfeldorf

Money from Moskowitz's Bingo: $7,320,000 between 1993 and 2001. He gave $7.2 million of this money in 1997, which accounted for 99 percent of American Friends of Mercaz Harav Kook donations that year.

More Information:

Mercaz HaRav Kook is one of the largest yeshivas in Israel. Its founder, Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook (died 1935), was dedicated to the rebuilding of a Jewish state in Israel. While there are conflicting reports about Kook's philosophy, it is generally understood that he had great respect for Islam as a sister religion. He was Chief Rabbi in Palestine, before the establishment of Israel.

Mercaz HaRav Kook, the Yeshiva in Rav Kook's name "is commonly referred to as the flagship of the national-religious movement," the Jerusalem Post wrote in 1997. Under the leadership of his son, Zvi Yehudah Kook (died 1973) and his "Mercaz" successors produced dozens of settler leaders including Benny Elon, Benjamin Kahanah, Shlomo Aviner, and Hanan Porat. Many Mercaz HaRav Kook graduatges distinguished themselves in developing a mystical-political mix of messianic ideology and power politics.

David Shipler (Arab and Jew: Wounded Spritsin the Promised Land: 1986, p. 150) writes: "…Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook used his teachings to interpret the renewal of Jewish control over Judea and Sumaria [the Israeli-occupied West Bank] as evidence that redemption was progressing." From these "redemptive" sparks many of the followers (some of them supported by Moskowitz's money) would move to advocating the legitimacy of "transfer," a code word widely understood to mean removing Arabs from all of Israel and the West Bank.

In 1997, Rabbi Svi Tau, one of the two leading rabbis of Mercaz HaRav was a "major force behind the move of Mercaz Harav students into the house owned by Irving Moskowtiz in Jerusalem's Ras al-Amud neighborhood," according to the Jerusalem Post. <link to article> That same year Moskowitz gave the American Friends of Mercaz Harav $7.2 million.

Read a news report about Mercaz HaRav Kook:
A Divided Soul


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