Rabbi Herschel Schacter: From 'Child Prodigy' to Jewish Leader
Rabbi Dr. Jacob Schacter, son of the late Rabbi Herschel Schacter, who passed away on March 22 in New York at the age of 95, spoke of the profound effect his father had on the worldwide Jewish community in an exclusive interview for Arutz Sheva.
"My father was a descendant of seven generations of shochtim (ritual slaughterers, ed.) - hence the name Schacter, but he was the first not to continue in that profession.
“Already at the age of six, seven, eight, he was known as a child prodigy and as a speaker,” Rabbi Jacob Schacter told Arutz Sheva of his father, who was to become a student of Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik and also of his son, Rabbi Yosef Ber Soloveitchik of Yeshiva University
“His elementary school, the Chaim Berlin Yeshiva, put him on a chair in front of hundreds of people when he was seven or eight to speak at the dinners of the yeshiva to raise money on their behalf,” he said.
"He was the first rabbi to receive smicha (ordination, ed.) from Rabbi Yosef Ber Soloveitchik and had a close relationship with him all his life, " he added.
As a rabbi serving in the role of chaplain in the U.S. Army during World War II, he participated in the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945, and later aided in the resettlement of displaced persons.
“He spoke about this for the rest of his life- what he saw, what he experienced and what he did,” Rabbi Herschel’s son said
Rabbi Schacter went on to hold positions of leadership in many American Jewish organizations, including chairman of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, and chairman of the Chaplaincy Commission of the Jewish Welfare Board.
He also became Director of Rabbinic Services at Yeshiva University, and served on the board of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis.
Speaking about his father’s efforts in bringing Jews back to Judaism, Rabbi Jacob Schacter said, “It is in the zechut - merit - of my father that all of these nefashot - Jewish souls - are now a part of klal Yisrael (the Jewish community, ed.) and not alienated from klal Yisrael.”