Schach, Eliezer (1898–2001)

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SCHACH, ELIEZER (1898–2001)

Israeli religious and political leader. Born on 22 January 1989 in the village of Wabolnick in Lithuania, Eliezer Schach was described as a "genius" at a young age. He migrated to Mandatory Palestine with his family in 1938. After studying at various yeshivas, he settled at Ponevezh Yeshiva. Rabbi Schach eventually became the standard-bearer for orthodoxy in Israel. Though he was an Ashkenazi, he was instrumental in forming the Sephardi Torah Guardians Party (SHAS) in the early 1970s. He was apparently in competition with Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef for influence over SHAS, and in 1988 founded a new party, Degel ha-Torah (Torah Flag), for the Ashkenazi ultra-orthodox. Though his rift with Yosef (and a highly publicized remark that Sephardi were not yet ready for leadership) eventually diminished his political influence, he remained the spiritual spokesman of the Ashkenazi and a prominent rabbinical authority until his death in 2001 at the age of 103.

SEE ALSO Ashkenazi; Degel ha-Torah; SHAS; Yosef, Ovadiah.