Raphael (Werfel), Yitzhak

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RAPHAEL (Werfel), YITZHAK (1914–1999), Israeli religious politician, member of the Second to Eighth Knessets. Born in Sasov, East Galicia, Raphael went to a heder, and then studied at a yeshivah in Lublin. Raphael moved to Lvov in 1929, where he studied in a gymnasium. He was one of the founders of the *Bnei Akiva movement and a member of the Torah va-Avodah leadership in Galicia. Raphael settled in Palestine in 1935. He received a second degree from the Hebrew University in the arts, and a doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. In the years 1940–46 he edited the weekly Bamishor. In the Jewish Agency he was director of the department for small businesses. In 1944 he became a member of the Va'ad Le'ummi. In the years 1947–48 he was a member of the Jerusalem Committee, and in 1948 was the director of the office that provided for those wounded in the course of the War of Independence. In the years 1948–53 he was a member of the *Jewish Agency Executive, and head of its Aliyah Department during the period of mass immigration. He was a member of Ha-Po'el ha-Mizrachi, and later of the *National Religious Party. Raphael was first elected to the Second Knesset. In the Knesset he was a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. In the years 1961–65 he served as deputy minister of health. During this period he started to edit Sinai, a monthly on Judaica. In 1965 he was implicated in an affair involving one of his employees, who was imprisoned on charges of extortion, and resigned from his ministerial post in 1965. He was finally acquitted of complicity in this affair by the Tel Aviv District Court. In the years 1974–76 he was minister of religious affairs. After abstaining in a vote on a motion of no confidence in the government, against the background of the alleged desecration of the Sabbath as a result of an official ceremony held when new fighter aircraft arrived from the U.S. on Friday afternoon, the National Religious Party ministers, including Raphael, were dismissed from the government.

Raphael was chairman of Mossad ha-Rav Kook and Yad ha-Rav Maimon, and a member of the Party Executive and of the World Center of ha-Mizrachi-ha-Po'el ha-Mizrachi. In 1979 he received the Bialik prize for Jewish knowledge.

Among his writings are an autobiography Lo Zakhiti ba-Or min ha-Hefker (1981) and a book on Ḥasidism. He was also an encyclopedia editor on religious Zionism in the Enẓiklopedyah shel ha-Ẓiyyonut ha-Datit, 3 vols. (1958–65), and on Ḥasidism, in the Enẓiklopedyah le-Ḥasidut (2000).

[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]