Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin
Rabbi Yitschak RudominCourtesy

For part I, click here.

It is never easy trying to include everyone who deserves mention in the creation of great events and great people. There are always multiple people and factors involved in the making of history and historical characters. This is true both in the general as well as in the Jewish worlds. Writing mini sound byte biographies is never easy and it is a challenge to recall and give credit and honor to everyone that deserves it.

My recent article in Arutz Sheva on The Changing of an Era: Remembering Rav Yitzchok Hutner's Disciples (Aug 2, 22) has evoked a response from a number of readers who have written to me in order to mention the names of more great rabbis and personalities who were veteran Talmidim (students) and disciples of the famous Rosh Yeshiva Rav Yitzchok Hutner (1906–1980).

Note, besides those eminent rabbis mentioned in my articles, that there are still many more departed disciples of Rav Hunter who would deserve mention. Not to mention of course that there are still many living disciples of Rav Hutner who continue to be leaders in the world of Torah scholarship as well as in worldly affairs.

Rabbi Yehoshua Hartman, Head of the Beis at Hasmonean High School in England and famous author of works about the Maharal of Prague (1512/1526–1609) wrote the following to me, translated from the Hebrew:

"With your permission I would like to add three more great Talmidim of the Rosh Yeshiva (Rav Hutner):

* 1. My father A"H Harav Hagaon Rav Yechezkel Hartman Zt"l, who was literally in the pupil of the eye (very close/in the immediate sight) of the Rosh Yeshiva. He was in the cycle (class) of Rav Meir Belsky Zt"l and the Gaon Rav Yaakov Weinberg Zt"l. I was told that my father Zt"l was the "Lamdan of the Chabura" (the top scholar of the group) at the same time that Rav Yaakov Weinberg was the "Gaon of the Chabura" (the genius of the group). My father Zt"l served in the rabbinate for many years. And he made Aliya (to Israel) in the year 1966. To our grief he passed away in his early years at the age of 53.

* 2. The close friend of my father, Harav Hagaon Rav Yitzchok Gefen Zt"l, the author of the book "דליות הכרם" ("Dalyos Hakerem"), a profound scholar, who together with my father Zt"l were the first two Talmidim that the Rosh Yeshiva (Rav Hutner) appointed them as Ramim (heads) in his yeshiva (Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin). The Gaonim Rav Aaron Schechter and Rav Yonoson David (the Rosh Yeshivas who took over after Rav Hutner passed away) were students of my father and of Rav Gefen.

* 3. Harav Heshi (Hirsch) Diskind Zt"l (d. 2013) the son in law of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky Zt"l (1891–1986), was the Menahel (principal) of the Bais Yaakov of Baltimore, MD, USA for more than forty years and was from the same era as my father Zt"l." Up to here, is what Rabbi Yehoshua Hartman wrote.

In the Baltimore Jewish Times it's reported that Rabbi Diskind was "A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Rabbi Diskind set foot in Bais Yaakov for the first time in 1952, when the school had just 135 students. Today [2013], the school boasts more than 1,300 students, making it one of the largest Jewish day schools for girls in the world...Rabbi Diskind made aliyah in 1987, and although he was no longer physically in the school, his wisdom never left it. Often, Dr. Jakobovits said, when teachers, department heads and principals met, they would call Rabbi Diskind for advice on what to do during different situations that arose in the school. The rabbi would get on the phone and spend as much time as necessary to delineate missions and directives that the school’s 'founding fathers' would wish to transmit." (Aug 7, 13).

A few other readers wrote to me to request that some of the following disciples of Rav Hutner who have passed away are mentioned as well:

* Rav Avner German Zt"l (1926–2012) was a great, long-time Talmid of Rav Hutner. I met Rabbi German quite a few times over the years in Brooklyn. Rav German was a Jewish outreach - Kiruv pioneer his entire life. He helped to found the Be'er HaGolah school for Jewish Russian immigrant children in Starrett City on the outskirts of Brooklyn. He was a very kind and caring person with a great sense of humor. In a memorial article published on Matzav.com it is noted that: "The mass exodus from the Former Soviet Union was truly a dream come true. After years of tears and prayers, the floodgates opened and the immigrants began pouring on to our shores. But that was only half the story. The other half was a miracle brought about by Rav German that is actually still unfolding. It’s the story of children who are returning to their roots. The story of youngsters who are confronting their Yiddishkeit for the very first time. It is the story of the miracle happening at Be’er Hagolah thanks to the mesirus nefesh [self sacrifice] of Rav Avner." (Feb 19, 12) His wife predeceased him and he passed away soon after the tragic passing of his oldest son in Israel that really devastated him and the entire family.

* Rav Meilech Silber Zt"l (d. 1970) and his connection to Rav Hutner is described in a recent edition of Mishpacha magazine as follows: "In 1946, Rav Yitzchok Hutner recommended a young Nuremberg-born talmid named Rav Meilech Silber for the principal position at a small Chaim Berlin offshoot in Crown Heights. Rav Hutner felt that Rav Meilech, the national director of Pirchei Agudath Israel and assistant head counselor at Camp Agudah, was the perfect man for the job. Under Rav Meilech’s 25 years of stewardship, the nascent school grew into the renowned Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway — a dynamic force in Torah education. By 1965, the 700-student institution encompassed an elementary school, a high school, and a post-high school. When the neighborhood changed, it moved from Crown Heights to East Flatbush." (June 15, 21).

* Rav Emanuel Gettinger Zt"l (d. 2015) was a well known Torah scholar and longtime community rabbi in Manhattan, NY. On a website devoted to his memory he is described as: "Rabbi of the Young Israel of the West Side for more than fifty years. He was ordained by Yeshivas Chaim Berlin and was a close disciple of the Rosh Yeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Yitzchak Hutner. Rabbi Gettinger received an advanced degree in mathematics from Columbia University. He served for more than two decades as the President of Ezras Torah, a major charitable organization in Israel....Those who were privileged to learn with Rabbi Gettinger will recall fondly his analytical rigor and vast erudition that made his shiurim a veritable odyssey of the intellect." (ravgettinger.com)

* Rav Mendel Weiss Zt"l was a Talmid of the Telz Yeshiva in Cleveland, OH who came to learn in Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin and became close with Rav Hutner who soon appointed him as a senior lecturer in the yeshiva's high school. Besides being a great Talmudic lecturer he was also a very inspirational teacher and mentor with a good sense of humor and great compassion. He always had a smile on his face. He died tragically at a young age from cancer.

* Rabbi Dr. Naftali Langsam Zt"l was a survivor of the Holocaust from Germany who came to learn at Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin and became a close student of Rav Hutner. Rabbi Langsam was an accomplished Talmid Chochem and mystic and was a specialist in the field of Jewish education having served as a teacher and principal in a number of Jewish day schools. He excelled at educational administration where he used his background in psychology and Torah learning to advance the betterment of his students. I met him at Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin where he was serving as the Administrative Director supervising that the yeshiva met the academic requirements of the Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools, Accreditation Commision (AARTS) ensuring that the yeshiva could issue Talmudic degrees that would be the equivalent of similar college level degrees. He was an expert at reading the fine print of government documents to figure out how to obtain benefits for yeshivas from the government. He was extremely wise and spoke English with a deep German accent with a strong voice. He hardly slept because I saw him a few times in his office chewing on raw coffee beans to stay awake! He eventually retired to Israel and continued his work on behalf of Jewish organizations even there. He was a true embodiment of the Herschian school of Torah Im Derech Eretz!

* Rav Zevulun Liebb Zt"l (d. 2022). His passing was reported in many of the Charedi media outlets in America. For example the Yeshiva World noted that: "We regret to inform you of the petirah of HaRav Zevulun Dovid Liebb zt”l, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ishei Yisroel in Brooklyn, New York. Rav Liebb was one of the earliest and closest talmidim of Rav Yitzchok Hutner zt”l, and spent his half-century plus in chinuch to mold the lives of countless talmidim across the United States. In the 50s and 60s, Rav Liebb traversed the United States, being marbitz torah to young children in day schools in far flung areas in the US. He also spent a number of years teaching at the Rike Breuer Teacher Seminary in Washington Heights." And: "It is with great sadness that Matzav.com reports the petirah of Rav Zevulun Dovid Liebb zt”l. He was 94. Rav Liebb served as a marbitz Torah for over six decades, including serving as rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ishey Yisroel. Rav Liebb was a noted talmid of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, learning under the rosh yeshiva, Rav Yitzchok Hutner zt”l, with whom he had a close kesher. For many years, Rav Liebb was the baal Shacharis during the Yomim Noraim at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin." I and many others had the great honor of hearing the way Rav Liebb would Daven (pray) at the yeshiva and his passion and sincerity sounded like it came from another older and better world that had once existed in Europe.

Some unusual stories about others connected with Rav Hutner are:

** Rav Shlomo Wolbe Zt"l (1914–2005) the famous Mashgiach Ruchani who by his own admission became a virtual disciple of Rav Hutner in his latter years in Eretz Yisroel as did Rav Moshe Shapiro Zt"l (1935–2017) in Israel; Rav Ahron Soloveitchik Zt"l (1917–2001) younger brother of Rav Joseph Ber Soloveitchik Zt"l, who was entrusted by his father Rav Moshe Soloveitchik Zt"l to Rav Hutner in Warsaw for tutoring as a youngster; Rav Moshe Greenes Zt"l (d. 1992) and brother in law to Rabbi Chaim Feuerman, was a Rov in New York and a Menahel at Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin in Far Rockaway, NY.; Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner Zt"l (1925–2008) was a famous Lubavitcher Chosid who learned in Yeshiva Chaim Berlin and was close with Rav Hutner, eventually heading Chabad of Australia.; Rav Aharon Lichtenstein Zt"l (1933–2015) in his youth the famous Rosh Yeshiva and son in law of Rav Joseph Ber Soloveitchik Zt"l was a student in Yeshiva Chaim Berlin under Rav Hutner; Rabbi Dr. Gershon Tashman Zt"l a noted psychologist and expert in Rav Hutner's writings Pachad Yitzchok;

We see from all these stories and biographies that Rav Yitzchok Hutner's reach was profound and gigantic as through his disciples he came to influence multitudes of other Jews in all spheres and on all strata of Jewish society. His passing left a great void. But his legacy is continued by his still living disciples as well as the disciples and students of the disciples who continue in his ways and in the spirit and methods he taught others who came to learn from him.

Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin was born to Holocaust survivor parents in Israel, grew up in South Africa, and lives in Brooklyn, NY. He is an alumnus of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin and of Teachers College-Columbia University. He heads the Jewish Professionals Institute dedicated to Jewish Adult Education and Outreach - Kiruv Rechokim. He was the Director of the Belzer Chasidim's Sinai Heritage Center of Manhattan 1988-1995, a Trustee of AJOP 1994-1997 and founder of American Friends of South African Jewish Education 1995-2015.

He is the author of The Second World War and Jewish Education in America: The Fall and Rise of Orthodoxy. Contact Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin at[email protected]

The Series:

Part One: The Changing of an Era: Remembering Rav Yitzchok Hutner's Disciples (Aug 2, 22).

Part Two: The Changing of an Era, Part II: Rav Hutner's Disciples (Aug 8, 22).

Part Three: Remembering Rav Yitzchok Hutner's Relationships with Gedolim in America (Aug 17, 22).

Part Four: The Changing of an Era: Rav Yitzchok Hutner and the Gedolim in the Mandate of Palestine (Aug 29, 22).

Part Five: The Changing of an Era: Rav Yitzchok Hutner's Relationships with Gedolim in Israel (Sep 8, 22).

Part Six: The Changing of an Era, part VI: Remembering Rav Yitzchok Hutner's Legacy (Sep 20, 22).