Rav Avichai Rontzki, fifth army Chief Rabbi, who served from 2006 to 2010, passed away at the age of 66.
Born to a secular Haifa family in 1951, Rav Rontzki became religious during his army service. He then studied at Yerushalayim’s Merkaz Harav Yeshiva and served as rosh yeshiva in the Itamar Yeshiva until his passing.
In 2012, he, Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and others founded the Yisraelim party which is now part of Bayit Yehudi.
Rav Rontzki revolutionized the army rabbinate. He increased the number of battalion rabbonim to the maximum, expanded the army’s Jewish Awareness Department and fought unsuccessfully to stop Army Radio from broadcasting on Shabbos.
Several MKs called for his resignation when he stridently opposed women taking on combat roles. During the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict, leftists were enraged when he circulated brochures urging soldiers not to show undue mercy to enemies.