Mercaz HaRav

Mercaz HaRav (officially, Hebrew: מרכז הרב - הישיבה המרכזית העולמית‎,[1] "The Center of Rabbi [Kook] - the Central Universal Yeshiva")[2] is a national-religious yeshiva in Jerusalem, founded in 1924 by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook.[3][4] Located in the city's Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, it has become the most prominent religious-Zionist yeshiva in the world and synonymous with Rabbi Kook's teachings.[5] Many Religious Zionist educators and leaders have studied at Mercaz HaRav.[5]

Main yeshiva building


Mercaz HaRav Beit Midrash

The yeshiva’s official name is The Central Universal Yeshiva, indicating its role in Kook’s vision for the spiritual revitalization of the Jewish people. Kook, however, lacked the financial backing necessary to establish a full-fledged academic institution. He initiated its modest beginning as a small collection (or center, Mercaz) of scholars associated with HaRav - the chief rabbi of Eretz Yisrael. The name "Mercaz HaRav" remained, despite the yeshiva’s transformation over the years into one of Israel's largest and most influential yeshivot.[6]


Original location of Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in "Beit HaRav", Jerusalem

Mercaz HaRav was founded in 1924 by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the chief Ashkenazi rabbi during the British Mandate. It was housed in Beit HaRav, built by the noted American philanthropist Harry Fischel. Rabbi Kook's vision was to create a new yeshiva curriculum, integrating traditional Talmudic studies with Jewish philosophy, Bible, Jewish history, geography, and literature. The last three subjects, however, were never taught there.[5]

In 1925, Rabbi Kook invited the great European scholar Rabbi Avraham Aharon Borstein (1867–1925) to serve as rosh yeshiva. Tragically, Rabbi Borstein died suddenly at age 58, nine months after taking up his duties.[7]

Kook died in 1935, and his student, Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Charlap, succeeded him as rosh yeshiva.[8] After Charlap's death in 1951, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook's son, took up his father's position. In 1982, after Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook died, Rabbi Avraham Shapira took the position and led the institution until his death in 2007. His son Rabbi Yaakov Shapira is his successor.

In its first decades, the yeshiva had few students; at times it was not clear whether it would survive. The turning point came in the '50s, when graduates of Bnei Akiva religious schools and high-school yeshivas seeking higher religious education flocked to Mercaz Harav, the only Zionist yeshiva. Bnei Akiva leader Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neria, a disciple of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, encouraged students to go to Mercaz Harav, then headed by Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook.[5]

In 1997, Rabbi Zvi Thau strongly opposed the introduction of an academic framework - plans to integrate a teaching institute - into Mercaz HaRav. As a result of the disagreement, he, together with six senior lecturers and many students, left the yeshiva and established the Har Hamor yeshiva.[9]

Today, the yeshiva has about 500 students, including 200 students in the yeshiva's kollel (post-graduate division).[5]

Roshei YeshivaEdit

Mercaz HaRav massacreEdit

On the night of March 6, 2008, a lone shooter from Jabel Mukaber in East Jerusalem, entered the yeshiva with a gun and began firing indiscriminately, killing eight students and wounding 15 others. The attack ended with the arrival of Yitzhak Dadon, a part-time student of the yeshiva, and David Shapira, an officer in the Israel Defense Forces, who shot and killed the shooter.


Name Age From Studied at
Neria Cohen 15 Jerusalem Yashlatz
Segev Pniel Avihail 15 Neve Daniel Yashlatz
Avraham David Moses 16 Efrat Yashlatz
Yehonatan Yitzhak Eldar 16 Shilo Yashlatz
Ro'i Roth 18 Elkana Mercaz Harav
Yohai Lipshitz 18 Jerusalem Yashlatz
Yonadav Chaim Hirshfeld 18 Kokhav HaShahar Mercaz Harav
Doron Mahareta 26 Ashdod Mercaz Harav

Notable alumniEdit

The list includes a number of Knesset members, rabbis, and community leaders.[11]


  1. ^ "Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav Israeli Site". Yeshivat Mercaz Harav.
  2. ^ "Central Universal Yeshiva Merkaz Harav". Virtual Judaica.
  3. ^ "About Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav". Friends of Mercaz Harav.
  4. ^ "About the Yeshiva" (in Hebrew). Mercaz Harav.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Sheleg, Yair (March 7, 2008). "Mercaz Harav - the flagship of national-religious yeshivas". haaretz.
  6. ^ Morrison, Chanan (2006). Gold from the Land of Israel: A New Light on the Weekly Torah Portion - From the Writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook'. Urim Publications. p. 13. ISBN 965-7108-92-6.
  7. ^ "ןייטשרוב ןורהא םהרבא ברה גירווטמ ברה". Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  8. ^ Katz, Steven T. (2005). The Impact of the Holocaust on Jewish Theology. p. 118. ISBN 9780814748060.
  9. ^ "והיו עיניך רואות את מוריך". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  10. ^ Rabbi Natan Ra'anan (Hebrew article)
  11. ^ The national-religious camp's flagship yeshiva Haaretz, 8 March 2008
  12. ^ "Pesach Kitniyot Rebels Roil Rabbis as Some Ashkenazim Follow New, Permissive Ruling".
  13. ^ "Efrat rabbi tilts against Passover food restrictions for Ashkenazi Jews".
  14. ^ Staff. (24 August 2001) "Obituaries: Hillel Kook", Telegraph
  15. ^ On the Border: Memoir of a Militant Jew, 2005.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 31°47′16″N 35°11′48″E / 31.7879°N 35.1967°E / 31.7879; 35.1967