Inside The Chassidic And Yeshivish World
By Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum
Rabbi Dovid Schustal At Kollel Shomrei Hachomos
Rabbi Dovid Zvi Schustal, Rosh Yeshiva Beth Medrash Govoha, traveled to Israel to attend the tombstone unveiling for his father, Rabbi Eliyahu Simcha Schustal, zt’l, (1923–2012) founding Rosh Yeshiva Beis Binyamin in Stamford, CT, and author of Chemed Simcha. While in Israel, Rabbi Schustal visited Kollel Shomrei Hachomos in Jerusalem, a leading charitable institution. Upon the passing of his father, Rabbi Schustal was appointed to the presidium of the organization which was established by Rabbi Moshe Sofer, zt’l, (1763–1839) Pressburger Rav, author of Chasam Sofer.
Kollel Shomrei Hachomos is renowned for its chessed network that feeds the hungry, cares for the sick, and extends considerable aid to widows and orphans. In addition, thousands of bnei Torah learn in Kollel Shomrei Hachomos batei midrashim. Thousands of poor, especially widows and orphans, are served in massive pre-yom tov distributions of food and clothing that bring holiday joy into their homes.
Rabbi Eliyahu Simcha Schustal was the son-in-law of Rabbi Shmuel Ehrenfeld, zt’l, (1891–1980) Matesdorfer Rav and Rosh Yeshiva Chasan Sofer; son of Rabbi Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld, zt’l, (d. 1926) Matesdorfer Rav and author of Maaneh Simcha; son of Rabbi Shmuel Ehrenfeld, zt’l, (1835–1878) Matesdorfer Rav and author of Chasan Sofer; grandson of the Chasam Sofer.
Though a descendant of the Chasam Sofer, who was the leader of Austrian-Hungarian Jewry, Rabbi Dovid Zvi Schustal is a pillar of today’s Litvishe yeshiva world. He serves as one of the four rosh yeshivas of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood. He is a son-in-law of Rabbi Shneur Kotler, zt’l, (1918–1982) Rosh Yeshiva Beth Medrash Govoha; son of Rabbi Aaron Kotler, zt’l, (1891–1962) revered founding rosh yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha; son-in-law of Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer, zt’l, (1870–1953) Slutzker Rosh Yeshiva and later Rosh Yeshiva Eitz Chaim in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Dovid Zvi’s two brothers are Rabbi Shlomo Feival Schustal, Rosh Yeshiva Torah Temima and rav of the Avreichim Minyan in Flatbush; and Rabbi Tovia Schustal, Rosh Yeshiva Ateres Torah. His brothers-in law, through his wife, are the other rosh yeshivas of Lakewood: Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, Rabbi Yeruchum Olshin, and Rabbi Yisroel Neuman, son and sons-in-law of Rabbi Shneur Kotler. His brothers-in-law, husbands of his sisters, are Rabbi Yerachmiel Ungarischer, Rosh Yeshiva Nachlas Yisroel in Lakewood; Rabbi Binyomin Halpern, rav in Lakewood; Rav Yeruchem Zeilberger, Rosh Yeshiva Bais Hatalmud; and Rabbi Michoel Bender, Rosh Yeshiva Stamford.
Upon his arrival at the doors of Kollel Shomrei Hachomos, Rabbi Schustal was warmly received by its administrators. Shown through a home for the elderly, Rabbi Schustal articulated immense appreciation for the superlative, considerate, and sensitive care lovingly provided. This was followed by a presentation of the Kollel’s financial review.
From there, Rabbi Schustal was given a formal kabbolas panim reception at the Kollel’s beis medrash devoted to the study of Seder Taharos, that of spiritual and ritual purification. Rabbi Schustal addressed Kollel members with an intricate halachic analysis and expressed awe and appreciation of the many facets of Kollel Shomrei Hachomos, as well as his being privileged to serve on the presidium.
Old Jewish Cemetery In Kalish, Poland, Returned
Mayor Janusz Pecherz of Kalisz, Poland, in his official capacity, returned the deed of the old Jewish cemetery there to Rabbi Michael Shudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland, representing Poland’s Jewish Communal Organization. In an official ceremony on Thursday, March 7, the cemetery and other Jewish properties were formally returned to Jewish ownership.
Kalish’s old cemetery dates back to the 1100s and is noted as the resting place of Rabbi Avrohom Avli Gombiner, zt’l, (1635–1682) revered Rav of Kalish and author of Magen Avrohom. After World War I, interment in the old cemetery was no longer possible because of a lack of space. A new cemetery was established with the last burial there taking place immediately before the outbreak of World War II. The old cemetery was preserved until WWII.
Kalish (Kalisz, Calisi, Kalisch) was most likely the first organized Jewish community in Poland. Jews surviving the Crusader massacres in the Rhineland fled to Poland and settled in Kalish, which is the oldest recorded town in Poland, dating back to the second century. Interestingly, Poland was always receptive to settlement of Jews and never expelled them. In 1264, Prince Boleslaw V the Pious granted the Jews of Kalisz charters of privileges, which was later used as the model for similar charters by Prince Casimir the Great in 1334 and by Duke Witthold in 1388.
Immediately before World War II, the Jewish population of Kalish was almost 20,000, representing a full third of the city’s inhabitants. Sadly, most were murdered in the Holocaust, and in 1942, Jewish existence in Kalish came to a sad end. The old Jewish cemetery in Kalish was razed by the cursed Nazis and its tombstones used in paving the Rypinkowski Canal, local roadways, as well as sewers. After the end of the war, a housing estate was built there and in the mid 1960s, a large educational center was erected.
In 1990, in laying a fuel pipeline, human remains were uncovered. Since that time, Poland’s collective Jewish communal organization had been negotiating to reclaim the cemetery. The local municipality, in response to increasing international interest and pressure, sought to relocate the educational center. In January 2012, the municipality, it was reported, was actively searching for a new site to serve as the home for the educational center.
Attending the emotionally moving official ceremony were Mayor Janusz Pecherz and governmental officials on behalf of all levels of the Republic of Poland; Chief Rabbi Michael Shudrich; Rabbi Yeshaye Schlesinger, Rosh Kollel London, representing his father, Rabbi Elyokim Schlesinger, Rosh Yeshiva Horomo of London; as well as the Rabbinical Board of the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe (CPJCE); Rabbi Moshe Hershaft, CPJCE director; Rabbi Yochanon Stroh, CPJCE board member; Avrohom Yechiel Lev and Sigmund Nissenbaum of the Nissenbaum Foundation. Among the aims of the Foundation are the reconstructing of Jewish cemeteries and synagogues and the preservation of places connected with the Holocaust.
Rabbi Hertz Frankel, in his capacity as vice-president of the World Council of Orthodox Jewish Communities, was critically instrumental in the protracted and delicate negotiations. Rabbi Frankel is the principal of the Satmar Beis Rochel Girls School network.
Reportedly, old cemetery records are still extant and will be used to recover monuments and return them to their exact locations in the cemetery where possible. Of course, this represents a monumental (word precisely applied) project and will take years. Nevertheless, this event is a major achievement in the restoration and resurrection of Jewish history.
Satmar’s New Building
In Boro Park
On Rosh Chodesh Nissan, 3,334 years ago, Moshe Rabbeinu oversaw the erection of the Mishkan. Traditionally, the first Torah words taught to Jewish children are from the weekly Torah reading of Vayikra. The word Vayikra is written on the Torah’s parchment scroll with a diminutive aleph. Children are taught that the little aleph is specifically for little children.
On Sunday, the day before erev Rosh Chodesh Nissan, on the first day of the week of Vayikra, March 10, more than 5,000 Chassidim attended the cornerstone-laying ceremony of a new building that will serve the Satmar Yeshiva in Boro Park. The new school building, at the corner of 37th Street and 13th Avenue, will have more than 65 classrooms, to teach more than 2,000 students, and a huge dinning room. In addition, a large beis medrash will serve those living nearby.
At 1:30 p.m., dozens of buses arrived from the far ends of Boro Park and Williamsburg, bringing thousands to the streets closed off to all traffic for the ceremony. Adults filled in the seats placed in the middle of the street and children climbed onto their places on the forentches (standing bleachers) on both sides of the street. Rabbis and dignitaries stepped high onto the multi-level platform facing the assembly. A children’s choir sang appropriate niggunim, including several new ones composed specifically for the event. Speakers included Rabbi Aaron Welz, superintendent of Boro Park’s Satmar schools; Rabbi Dovid Dov Berish Meisels, Boro Park Satmar Rav; Rabbi Menachem Mendel Teitelbaum, Williamsburg Satmar Rav; Rabbi Chaim Hersh Teitelbaum, Yerushalayim Satmar Rosh Yeshiva; and Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe. In between speakers, the children’s choir sang, joined by all the children that were there.
Looking back at Satmar’s history here in the United States, amazement is the only reaction possible. When Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, zt’l, (1886–1979) founding Satmar Rebbe and author of Divrei Yoel, stepped through the door of his new home on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg in 1947, men needed to be invited off the street to total a minyan for davening. Just a few years later, when a few chassidim began moving into then modern Boro Park, talks focused on the remote possibility of establishing a Satmar yeshiva for boys there. The Rebbe said, “Give me ten boys and we’ll begin a yeshiva.” Twenty-eight boys were recruited for the yeshiva. The boys’ parents were Holocaust survivor immigrants conducting modern Orthodox homes. But after the very first days of the new yeshiva, only 10 boys remained, giving reality to the Rebbe’s prediction.
The yeshiva began in 1956 in a storefront on 15th Avenue and 38th Street. The next stop was on 42nd Street and 14th Avenue. From there the yeshiva moved into the Shiniva Beis Medrash on 42nd Street and the Voidislover Beis Medrash on 48th Street. As the number of students increased, space was rented at 45th Street and 15th Avenue. In the summer of 1960, a building on 53rd Street near 13th Avenue was acquired for the then astronomical sum of $40,000, with an initial deposit of $400. That today is the location of Satmar’s main beis medrash in Boro Park, and continues to serves as a yeshiva location. Next was additional space for three classes on 13th Avenue at 52nd Street. Then use was made of the Krula Beis Medrash on 51st Street at 11th Avenue and the Dyurmat Beis Medrash on 10th Avenue at 51st Street. In 1963, seeing that a centralized location was an absolute necessity, the adjacent building to the 53rd Street yeshiva and beis medrash was purchased, with plans to raze it and build a much larger building.
In the early 1980s, with a student enrollment of more than 1,000 children, an apartment complex on Fort Hamilton Parkway at 54th Street was acquired and converted to classrooms. Recently eight classrooms were added there, for a total of 45 classrooms. Simultaneously, additional classrooms were added to the 53rd Street location.
The demand for a girls’ school prompted Satmar in 1971 to acquire rental space on 14th Avenue and 41st Street in addition to the acquisition of the former Kaminitz High School on 49th Street at 10th Avenue. In 1977, the 14th Avenue public school at 54th Street was underused and acquired by Satmar to serve as a girls’ school. In recent years, an additional floor and an additional building were added.
Today, Satmar serves more than 4,000 students in Boro Park and continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. Though the new building will accommodate more than an additional 2,000 students, with Satmar’s explosive growth, the new facility will long have been filled on the day that its doors first open.
Satmar Alesker Shidduch
On Tuesday evening, March 5, Yisroel Yukel Teitelbaum was engaged to the daughter of Rabbi Zvi Ashkenazi, Satmar Rosh Yeshiva Be’er Torah; son of Rabbi Yitzchok Ashkenazi, Alesker Rebbe in Kensington; son of Rabbi Elimelech Ashkenazi, zt’l, (1916–2012) Melbourne Seagate Rav. Rabbi Zvi Ashkenazi is a son-in-law of Rabbi Moshe Meisels, Veitzener Rav in Williamsburg.
The chasan is the son of Rabbi Boruch Teitelbaum, rav in Kiryas Yoel; son of Rabbi Nochum Ephraim Teitelbaum, Volover Rav in Boro Park; son of Rabbi Chanania Yom Tov Lipa Teitelbaum, zt’l, (1911–1983), Nirbatur Rav and author of Levushei Yom Tov; and son-in-law of Rabbi Shmuel Shmelka Rubin, Sulitzer Rebbe in Far Rockaway. Rabbi Boruch Teitelbaum is the son-in-law of Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe.
The shidduch was formalized in the home of the kallah in Williamsburg, after which all assembled in the Satmar Rebbe’s Williamsburg home to wish mazel tov. On Wednesday morning, students of the Satmar Yeshiva in Kiryas Yoel celebrated, as did the students of Yeshiva Be’er Torah. v
Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum is the rav of B’nai Israel of Linden Heights in Boro Park and director of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. Rabbi Tannenbaum can be contacted at email@example.com.