Machberes: Inside The Chassidish And Yeshivish World
By the Tannenbaum family
On Tuesday night, the second night of Rosh Chodesh Adar Rishon 5776, February 9–10, 2016, our family and the entire world lost the noble, beloved Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, zt’l.
Time stood still at the levayah at Congregation Bnai Israel of Linden Heights in Boro Park as Rabbi Tannenbaum’s eldest son, Rabbi Chaim Zev Tannenbaum, encapsulated what is in all our hearts: “Totty, we thought we had more time . . . to learn everything from you. There was so much to learn . . .
“All of Klal Yisrael’s joys were your joys. Your heart was full of simcha, at every beis midrash that was built or expanded; at every yeshiva that was established or expanded with more talmidim; at every new sefer that was published; at every new yeshuah that anyone had. You were truly b’simcha as if it was your own.
“And all of Klal Yisrael’s tzaros were your tzaros. You felt as if it were your own tzarah. You knew no limits. You traveled across America just to help someone. Everyone who needed your help knew where to find an open door, a caring heart, and helping hand. You helped countless people, because their tzarah was your tzarah.”
Rabbi Tannenbaum’s younger son, Rabbi Yitzchak Dov Tannenbaum, continued: “At the same time, Totty, your love and dedication to your family was not diminished at all by all this. Your love and dedication knew no bounds. It didn’t matter how long it took. You would always make sure we wouldn’t miss anything. You would travel to make sure your kinderlach and eineklach received a personal berachah before yamimtovim.
“We always watched with amazement as your askanus would be all-inclusive, involving rabbanim from all our chassidish, yeshivish, and Modern Orthodox communities, and all levels of government officials . . . Your ahavah for your family and kehillah was boundless . . . You were never limited or intimidated. You were able to say what needed to be said to connect all people. You always stressed to do the right thing, pick up the pieces, and move on. We implore you now to be a meilitzyosher for your family, your kehillah, and Klal Yisrael.”
Other speakers at the standing-room-only assemblage included Rabbi Yaakov Klass, Rabbi Yaakov Spivak, Rabbi Menachem Rokeach, Rabbi Dov Aharon Brisman, and Rabbi Elya Katz.
While it would be impossible to sufficiently describe our beloved father and husband with so little time to prepare this article, we wanted to give his readers a small picture of his background. B’ezras Hashem, we will share more about his remarkable life after the shivah when we have a chance to collect our thoughts and emotions.
Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum was born in 1949 (5 Nissan 5709) in the DP camp of Windsheim, Germany, to R’ Moshe Yaakov Tannenbaum and Chana Leah (née Yankelovitz). He is scion of a long line of prominent rabbanim, and a ben achar ben of the Netah Sorek. His family immigrated to the U.S. in 1950. He studied in Yeshiva Chasan Sofer and Yeshiva Tiferes Yerushalayim, and was a talmid of R’ Moshe Feinstein, zt’l. He attended Yeshivas R’ Yitzchak Elchanan/Yeshiva University, and in 1967 went to Eretz Yisrael and attended Yeshiva Hatefutzot/Diaspora Yeshiva, where he received semichah from R’ Mordechai Goldstein in the first semichah ceremony in the newly reunited Yerushalayim.
Upon his return to New York, he established Yeshiva Knesset Harabanim, and married Sarah Brana (née Scheiner), daughter of R’ Menachem Mendel, zt’l, and Tova, shetichyeh.
Over the next few years, he pursued various business ventures, and was a rosh ha’kahal of the Agudah of Ninth Avenue shul. He was continuously active in many organizations, organizing fundraisers and advocating on behalf of the Jewish community.
In 2001, he became the rav of Congregation Bnai Israel of Linden Heights in Boro Park and developed a warm, loving relationship with his congregations and their extended families. As the director of the Igud Harabbonim/Rabbinical Alliance of America, he earned the greatest respect of all the rabbanim he dealt with through its various programs and events.
He was a columnist for the Jewish Press and the Five Towns Jewish Times, and had a wide readership who anticipated his articles about the yeshivish and chassidish communities every week.
His wife, Sarah; sons Rabbis Chaim Zev and Yitzchok Dov; daughters Mrs. Bracha Holczer and Mrs. Malky Haimoff; sister Mrs. Judy Kern; and extended family are joined by the whole world in mourning the passing of this multifaceted, shining, precious diamond. He was a gadol in derech eretz, a brilliant talmidchacham, and an exemplar of ahavas Hashem, ahavas Eretz Yisrael, and ahavas Klal Yisrael.
Rabbi Tannenbaum is buried in Beth Israel Cemetery in Woodridge.
Yehi zichro baruch. Tehei nafsho tzerurah b’tzror ha’chaim.
Rabbi Tannenbaum’s family asks readers to please e‑mail any memories, stories, thoughts, and pictures to RabbiTannenbaumZTL@gmail.com.