(1925 - )
Rabbi Yehuda Amital was born in 1925 in Transylvania. As a boy he studied in heder and yeshiva, and had virtually no formal secular education. In 1943 the Nazi's deported him to a labor camp; the rest of his family perished in Auschwitz. Upon his release, he came to Israel (December 1944).
Rabbi Amital foresaw that the exemption from army service granted to yeshiva students would increase the friction between the religious and secular communities, and make it almost impossible for the yeshiva world to maintain an appreciation for the religious signifcance of the accomplishments of the new State. He took an active role in developing Yeshivat HaDarom, and it was there that he formulated the idea of the "yeshivat hesder", combining yeshiva study and military service. It was at Yeshivat HaDarom that the first hesder group was organized.
After the liberation of Gush Etzion in the Six Day War of 1967, Rabbi Amital was asked to open a "yeshivat hesder" in the area. In 1968 Yeshivat Har Etzion first opened its doors to thirty students in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, not far from the site of today's yeshiva in Alon Shvut. Together with Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, Rabbi Amital still serves as head of the Har Etzion yeshiva.
With the rank of captain (res.) in the Armored Corps, Rabbi Amital continues to represent the "yeshivot hesder" in the Israeli defense network.
In 1993 he founded "Meimad, the Movement for Religious Zionist Renewal", a public policy movement aimed at rejuvenating the traditional religious Zionist principles of openness, breadth of vision, and concern for the welfare of all segments of the State of Israel.
He served as Minister without Portfolio from November 1995 until July 1996.
Rabbi and Mrs. Amital have five children.
Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs .