Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Wrestling Rabbi of Bnei- Brak.

Wrestler-bodybuilder- rabbi- author of religious books - diamond cutter - entrepeneur- donor - businessman - all this in one fascinating figure, that of rabbi Raphael Halperin.

Last week the rabbi (87), a former professional wrestler, died at his home in the orthodox city Bnei- Brak, surrounded , probably, by his large family (12 children from two wives and some 50 grandchildren and greatgrandchildren). May his soul rest in peace!

rabbi Raphael Halperin (Web pic.)

In 1988, Raphael Halperin, a man of many talents , opened an optical store in Bnei-Brak in a charitable attempt to sell eyeglasses at low prices to the many needy residents of his city. (Bnei Brak is considered one of the poorest cities in Israel). This optical store is located on the main shopping street of the city - the rabbi Akiva street - on the ground floor of an old building. A few stone stairs lead from the street down to the store. In front of the store, a huge sign in hebrew -"Optica Halperin" - welcomes the potential customers. Inside, it's quite spacious and the young staff seem to be polite and helpful.

Huge sign : Optica Halperin

the optical store

The rabbi Akiva street, long and rather narrow, is now being upgraded , so everything looks kind of messy - especially the traffic, What immediately attracts a stranger's eye are the many charity boxes of all sizes and shapes scattered along the street, men dressed in black attire, women with long skirts , long sleeves, stockings, head coverings or wigs, and... lots of children. It's very hot and humid outside in August, and I feel particularly sorry for the not so lightly dressed little girls and boys.

big charity box

waiting for traffic lights to change

youngsters in orthodox outfit

little girl- long sleeves-white stockings

'Optica Halperin' has gradually become a chain of more than 120 stores! (with branches even in New-York and Los Angeles ). It still boasts of offering good stuff and service at low prices.
Anyway, its founder and CEO, the wrestler-rabbi Halperin will always be an inspiration to many of us.


  1. This is a story of a great man to remember....I am sure he helped the poor which is good.

  2. Nice and interesting life story that we are happy to hear about it. I read it and now I understand why you have admired him so much. I do admire him too, and hope he rests in peace!

  3. He sounds like a wonderful man with a big heart for people. May he Rest In Peace!

    until next time... nel

  4. He accomplished much in life, and will be remembered for it. What a wonderful, compassionate man who, I'm sure, will be missed by many.

  5. a very interesting story! and a huge family he had!

  6. He seems to have been a very colourful character that went on to achieve success in later life too. Truly an inspiration right till the end leaving his legacy for everyone to remember.

  7. People like him are gems in the history of a place. He is a wonderful and beautiful human being. may his soul rest in piece and may his family be comforted.

    Joy always,

  8. Well a very talented man however, the clothing for them is too much for this southern gal to think about. Humidity, long sleeves and black outfits do not go hand and hand. The idea started out with a good thought but now that it is a chain store and in other countries too can it claim to be charitable? Peace

  9. That was a lovely tribute to a very good man. It was really interesting to read what he did with his life.

  10. Kim&Stuff,

    He was known in his city, Bnei-Brak, as a great charitable person who donated to poor people and to religous causes.

    Lumi Ro,

    We cannot but admire a man so gifted and so kind to others.


    He looked big, and it appeared that his heart too was big.


    Indeed, he was a very special man with both great spiritual and material achievements in his life.


    Thank you.
    His family was his pride and blessing. His children are probably trying to follow in his footsteps.

  11. J_on_tour@jayspaze,

    He was a colorful figure , in the positive sense of the word.
    He was a lucky combination of physical and spiritual strength.

    Susan Deborah,

    Speaking of gems; among his other occupations, he was also in the jewelery trade as a diamond cutter and as the owner of a jewelery business.

    Lady Di Tn,

    I feel the same as you , heat and humidity don't go well with long sleeves, stockings, head coverings etc..

    The optical chain is run by some of his sons & daughters. I suppose the younger generation has naturally introduced some changes, but I want to believe that in principle, they continue their father's outlook regarding affordable prices.

    Phivos Nicolaides,

    As always, you go for the bottom line. Thanks.


    In fact, I wished to write about Bnei-Brak. The rabbi's sad departure was a trigger and he ultimately became the subject of my post.

  12. Thanks for an interesting story! I admire people who live well doing good.

  13. As someone who has worn glasses almost from the moment of birth I can admire anyone that would try to help those less fortunate to be able to see better. Nothing is as frustrating as not being able to see!

    Amazing how much living one can fit into a lifetime! Amazing life this man led.

  14. Lovely to share your patch of the world, Duta, as could be seen by your photos. Helps keep me in balance about there being a world beyond our smallholding!

  15. Dimple,

    Me too. I both admire and envy such people as rabbi Halperin.


    'Amazing' is indeed the right word when discussing the rabbi and what he did in his life.


    Thanks for your kind words. Everything that keeps us in balance is appreciated.

  16. I just love the way you see the world Duta! Thanks for sharing your sites with us!!

  17. Tanya Reimer,

    I sure feel flattered by your kind words. Thank You.