Thursday, January 27, 2022

New photograph of Rabbi Kook unveiled


Rabbi Kook museum publishes photograph of Rabbi Kook with mayor of Chicago from rabbinical delegation to the US in 1924.

Beit HaRav Kook, the Rabbi Kook Museum, has published a newly unveiled photograph of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, the first Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of pre-state Israel. The picture was taken during Rabbi Kook's meeting with the mayor of Chicago, William Emmett Dever, during his visit to the United States in 1924.

In early 1924, a delegation of rabbis arrived in the Port of New York, which included Rabbi Kook, Rabbi Avraham Dover Shapira, and Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein.

The purpose of the delegation was to raise funds for yeshivas in Europe and Israel. In practice, the visit strengthened the connection of the young American Jewish communities in the United States and Canada with the longstanding Jewish communities from Europe and Israel. In addition to the donations collected, the rabbis' visit accelerated the trend of young people from America to travel and study in yeshivas in Israel and Europe.

The audience in the United States was particularly interested in Rabbi Kook, because he represented for them the Land of Israel and religious Zionism. The rabbinical delegation was received with great respect wherever they went. Mayors met with them, and receptions were held in their honor.

 Rabbi Kook even met with then-US President Calvin Coolidge. In fact, Rabbi Kook was the first official Jewish representative to meet with the President of the United States.

Although he had already spoken to the mayor of New York in English, Rabbi Kook preferred to use an interpreter during his conversation with President Calvin Coolidge. Rabbi Kook opened the conversation with an apology for the inconvenience of holding the conversation through an interpreter instead of entirely in English. Later in the conversation, Rabbi Kook thanked the President for the support of the two houses of Congress for the Balfour Declaration, which meant the recognition of the right of the Jewish people to establish a state in the Land of Israel. The president promised that the United States would do everything in its power to help build the Land of Israel. At the end of the conversation, Rabbi Kook expressed to the President a hope that the United States would remain a power of idealism and freedom.

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