1 million expected to attend funeral of leading Torah scholar; concerns raised of potential disaster

Funeral may be Israel’s largest; traffic disruptions in Gush Dan region expected throughout Sunday.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Israeli police are gearing up for as many as one million people coming to Bnei Brak for the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, the world’s foremost Torah scholar.

The 94-year-old rabbi passed away on Friday. The funeral begins at 11:00 a.m.

Police estimate that between 700,000-1,000,000 people will come to Bnei Brak to pay their respects to the leader of Israel’s non-Hasidic Lithuanian Orthodox community.

There is serious concern that the funeral could turn into a crowd control disaster, potentially similar to the tragedy in Meron last May in which 45 people were crushed to death.

Authorities are asking people not to drive in the Gush Dan region unless they are attending the funeral.

According to Hebrew media reports, 3,000 police officers will be deployed.

Police will begin blocking off roads starting from 7:00 a.m., including Highway 4 between the Ganot and Ra’anana interchanges. Traffic and participation in the funeral will be open only to buses and a terminal will be set up near the Coca Cola Interchange.

Disruptions are also expected in the Gush Dan region’s Highways 2, 5 and 6.

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Traffic is not expected to return to normal until 8:00 p.m.

Turnout is expected to be similar to the estimated 850,000 who attended the 2013 funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in Jerusalem, the largest in Israeli history.

Rabbi Kanievsky passed away after collapsing in his home on Friday. Paramedics were unable to resuscitate him.

Rabbi Kanievsky was born in 1928, in the then-Polish city of Pinsk, now part of Belarus. His father, Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, was known as the “Steipler Gaon.”

The family moved to Holy Land in 1934, making their home in B’nei Brak. His wife, Batsheva Elyashiv, was the daughter of another leading Torah scholar, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. Rebbetzin Kanievsky passed away in 2011.

Rabbi Kanievsky is survived by three sons, four daughters and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“Together with all the people of Israel, I received with deep sorrow the news of the death of the greatest of the generation, the late Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky,” said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett after hearing of the rabbi’s passing.

“Despite his greatness in the Torah and in public, the rabbi made sure to always receive every person with an open heart and light eyes,” Bennett said. “He was a true public leader, who from his humble home in Bnei Brak led tens of thousands of the people of Israel – in wisdom, in common sense, in rare proficiency.”

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