Abraham Isaac Kook

Abraham Isaac Kook אברהם יצחק הכהן קוק Abraham 7 September 1865 – 1 September 1935.

Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook was the first Ashkenazic chief rabbi of Israel. He was born in Grieva, a suburb of Dvinsk, Latvia. His father Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Hakohen Kook studied in the Volozhin Yeshiva, founded by the eminent disciple of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Hayyim of Volozhin.

His mother, Perel Zlata Felman’s father Raphael was a hassid of Rabbi Menahem Mendel Schneersohn of Lubavitch, author of Responsa Tsemah Tsedek.

In 1904 when he was rabbi in Zoimel and later Boisk (Bauska), Latvia Rabbi Kook accepted the invitation of the port city of Jaffa to be its rabbi. In Israel Rabbi Kook influenced both the Old and New Yishuv. Rav Kook reached out to the modern Israeli society who had become alienated from Jewish traditions. He served as rabbi of Jaffa for a decade.

In 1914 he travelled to Europe to attend the conference of Agudat Israel, a newly formed Orthodox movement, in order to impress upon the delegates the importance of Orthodox participation in the settlement Israel. Due to the outbreak of World War One the conference was cancelled, and Rav Kook found himself stranded in European. He spent the First World War in St. Gallen, Switzerland in the home of an admirer Mr. Abraham Kimhi, and later in London as rabbi of the prestigious East End synagogue Mahzikei Hadat.

At the end of the Great War Rav Kook returned to Israel and became the Ashkenazic Rabbi of Jerusalem, and eventually Chief Rabbi Israel. During his time as Chief Rabbi he became one of the world’s leaders of Jewry. In 1924 he spent time in the United States as part of a three-man rabbinic delegation sent to raise funds for the destitute yeshivot of Eastern Europe. He established the Merkaz Harav yeshivah in Jerusalem.