The biography of our dear friend Yisroel Friedman a”h is the history of religious Zionism at its greatest. The years of our revered founders and giants Rav Reiness and Rav Mohiliver opened for us the vista of combining ahavat Torah with ahavat Yisrael and ahavat Eretz Yisrael to lead us ultimately, after those dreadful years of the Shoa, to hakamat medina and it was in those years that our friend Yisroel was immersed in working for our movement.
He made aliyah in 1935 and after many years of working with and for Rav Meir Bar Ilan, Rabbi Maimon, Moshe Schapira and his very close friend Dr. Yosef Burg, he was called to America to take the position of Executive Director of American Mizrachi. Rabbi Gelman, Rabbi Kirschblum, Rabbi Ellinson and our unforgettable Rabbi Lou Bernstein a”h were among those leaders with whom he worked. In those years following the founding of the Jewish State I was in Toronto and I had the pleasure to speak to our friend Yisroel in New York many times a week to talk about the daily struggle of the Medina, of Mizrachi’s place in the World Zionist Organisation and the Jewish Agency and our own affairs of Mizrachi, Bnei Akiva and our women’s organisations of Amit and Emunah.
The Friedman family originated from Lizhensk and its great leader Reb Elimelech whose spirit of love for and friendship with his fellow Jews was reflected in Reb Yisroel’s personality. His great friend and chavruta was Rabbi Josef Shalom Eliashiv whose home was his first stop whenever he came to Israel. Through him he connected to the haredi world but also at the same time he was respected by the Zionist world and had close relationship with the Zionist world.
To honour Yisroel is to quote from the Stirling Prayer of Reb Elimelech.
May Yisroel’s zechut be with us in our ongoing struggle for the security and future of Medinat Yisrael and for the recognition and welfare of our National Religious Zionist presence in Israel, America and worldwide.
Yehi zichro baruch