In a survey conducted by Ynet and Gesher Society in honor of Israel's 60th Independence Day, Abraham Isaac Kook was chosen to be the largest contributor to the shaping and building of the State of Israel. The Zionist-religious leader was awarded first place in the survey, which asked thousands to rank Jewish leaders according to their contribution to the State.
In second place was Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who also gave the State's founding speech. Chabad Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, also known as Rabbi MiLubavitch, came in third, and Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl, founder of Zionism, was ranked fourth.
Other leaders ranked among the top 10 were Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Rabbi Elazar Menachem Man Shach, Shulamit Aloni, Hayyim Nahman Bialik, and Hannah Senensh.
Rabbi Kook (1865–1935) was born in Latvia, and served as the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi in Israel, before the Jewish State was established. He also wrote many books on halacha and poetry – which are generally viewed as extremely thoughtful and profound. Rabbi Kook also established the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, still active today.
In his many writings, Rabbi Kook determined that the State of Israel (not yet established during his time) has religious significance, and supported the ideology of the establishment of the Jewish State.
A telephone survey was also conducted, among the adult Jewish Hebrew-speaking population of Israel. Those polled were asked to rate social groups that have influenced the Jewish nature of the State. 24% chose military personalities, 21% chose rabbis, 20% chose statesmen, and 16% chose cultural and philosophic personas.
However, when asked to choose a role model for their children, cultural and philosophic personas ranked first place, while military men came in second.