The IDF Rabbi at the Western Wall
The Fellowship | October 26, 2021
Born into a Jewish family in Poland, Rabbi Shlomo Goren made aliyah (immigrated) to the Holy Land in 1925. Raised near Haifa, Goren began studying at a yeshiva in Hebron at age 12 and was marked as a child prodigy, publishing his first book at only 17 years old.
A Young Zionist in Zion
From his youth, Goren also felt a strong commitment to Zionism. He volunteered to serve in the Haganah (the precursor to the IDF) in 1936, then served as a chaplain during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. During that war, Rabbi Goren also qualified as an IDF paratrooper.
After Israel won her independence, Rabbi Goren faced a daunting task – he helped collect and bury the remains of those Israeli soldiers who had fallen in the field. The man of God provided this service to his fellow soldiers and Israelis who had made the ultimate sacrifice for the Jewish state and its people.
Israel’s Military Rabbi
Following Israel’s independence, Rabbi Goren served as Chief Rabbi of the IDF. In this position, he helped create and organize the framework for the IDF’s chaplains. He also wrote a new prayer book that spoke to the different prayer styles of the IDF’s various ethnic groups. Rabbi Goren also opposed separating soldiers by religious differences, working for the integration of all serving in the IDF.
As stated above, Rabbi Goren not only served in Israel’s War of Independence, but during the 1956 Suez Crisis and the 1967 Six-Day War, as well. During the latter conflict, one of the defining moments was when the rabbi gave a prayer of thanksgiving after the capture of the Western Wall. In the above photo, Rabbi Goren blows the shofar surrounded by the Torah and fellow soldiers during the first Jewish prayer at the Wall since 1948.
Rabbi Goren and his wife Tzfia had three children – Tchiya, Drorit, and Abraham.
‘All Men Created in the Image of God’
A strong supporter of the alliance between evangelical Christians and Israel, Rabbi Goren’s views can be summed up in this quote:
“Human life is undoubtedly a supreme value in Judaism…This refers not only to Jews, but to all men created in the image of God.”