Israel mourns passing of Uri Zohar, movie star who became ultra-Orthodox rabbi

“Rabbi Uri Zohar was one of the greatest creators in Israel and a cornerstone of Israeli culture,” said Minister of Culture and Sports Hilli Tropper. “His legacy will remain with us.”

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

Israel’s leadership eulogized Uri Zohar, a prominent movie star and filmmaker who later became a rabbi, after he passed away on Thursday at the age of 86.

Zohar was one of Israel’s most famous comedians, actor, director and one of the leading creators in the film industry in the country. He participated in the creation of a series of classics in which he starred. In the late 1970s, he became religious and an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, teacher and public figure.

President Isaac Herzog said he was “sorry to hear about the passing of the man of culture and Torah, Rabbi Uri Zohar. A great creator, one of the designers of Israeli cinema, who made a significant contribution to the cultural and spiritual assets of the State of Israel will not be forgotten.”

Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau said that “together with all the people of Israel, I mourn the departure from the world of my beloved friend, the righteous Rabbi Uri Zohar.”

“He was an exemplary figure in our generation, paved the way to the roots of the people and turned many away from iniquity. He was privileged to live a meaningful life of Torah, in modesty and humility, out of devotion to the Blessed Creator,” Rabbi Lau added.

“Rabbi Uri Zohar was one of the greatest creators in Israel and a cornerstone of Israeli culture,” said Minister of Culture and Sports Hilli Tropper. “His legacy will remain with us.”

The Israel Artists’ Association said that “it is difficult to imagine Israeli culture without the contribution and character of Zohar, a groundbreaking artist, one of a kind, who defined and was largely the voice of an entire generation. His work will live on forever.”

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute to Zohar, saying he “was one of the greatest Israeli filmmakers – an actor, screenwriter and director who shaped our film world. His great contribution to Israeli culture will be remembered for generations.”

“Personally, I will never forget his performances in front of soldiers together with Shaike Ofir and Yehoram Gaon. Sitting on mattresses, in a hangar in the unit, we were privileged to enjoy the greatest talents that have grown in the State of Israel. Uri made us laugh. We loved him very much,” Netanyahu said.