Minister Uri Orbach died Monday at the age of 54. Orbach suffered from a blood disease and has been hospitalized since early January.
Orbach was elected to the Knesset for the first time in 2008 after a career in journalism. He took the pensioner affairs portfolio in March 2013.
He is credited with bringing Naftali Bennett into Habayit Hayehudi, prompting a changing of the guard to younger leadership in the party. Bennett now holds two ministerial portfolios, economic affairs and religious services.
"Uri knew how to shape ideology with stubbornness and grace, diligence and humor, through boundless self-awareness and personal charm," Bennett said in a statement. "… There hasn’t been a person as beloved as Uri in the cynical and cold world of politics."
“My older brother has left me. Uri, a man of laughter and of seriousness, of wisdom and honesty, of courage and of vision. Uri knew how to hew an ideological path with determination and grace, with diligence and with a wink, with never ending self – awareness and personal charm that never ceased.. Uri knew how to make children happy in his books, to make their parents laugh in his sophistication, and to bring to their elderly parents old age with respect,” he said.
Orbach, who was married with four children, was also a well-known journalist and author. Over the years, he served as a columnist for three different papers – Hadashot, Maariv and Yedioth Ahronoth. Orbach won several prizes for his journalistic work, including the Commander’s Prize at Army Radio, and was nominated several times for the title of radio’s man of the year.