Saturday January 11, 2014
NEW YORK – The Rabbinical Assembly is saddened by the passing of Ariel Sharon, whose years of service to the nation of Israel earned him widespread admiration among Israelis. He earned and sustained a reputation for bravery and brilliance as a military commander, notwithstanding some periods of significant controversy. There was no single Israeli general who inspired his troops and led them as effectively as he did, and he was a towering figure of Israel's political scene for many years. One of the most striking elements of his legacy was his willingness, in the late stages of his career, to change course by founding the Kadima political party and pushing for solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The death of such a towering figure naturally causes us to pause and reflect on his deep impact on the development of Israeli history. Prime Minister Sharon served his country both as a daring military leader and as a political figure devoted to his nation's well-being. We are humbled to think that for twenty-five years, he was on the front lines of every Israeli military conflict, often serving during battles that critically turned the tide in Israel's favor. During his political career he steered the nation through a horrific Intifada and, in a move both bold and hopeful, engineered the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip for the sake of bringing peace to Israel and her neighbors. Such accomplishments will undoubtedly become fixtures in the story of Israel's history. On behalf of the 1700 rabbis of the Rabbinical Assembly, we applaud Ariel Sharon's long career and its many moments of bravery and sacrifice. We have no doubt that his decisive actions, both as a commander in Israel's wars and as a Prime Minister willing to act boldly for the sake of peace, have left a profound mark on Israel. We hope that Sharon's legacy of a move from warrior to peace-seeker will inspire Israel and the Jewish people as this work remains unfinished. Our thoughts go out to his family, who have cared for him since his tragic stroke in 2006 and to whom we now extend our deepest condolences.