Kabbalas Hatorah at Three Landmark Flatbush Yeshivos:

CoNTiNuED fRoM PAgE 1 changed the face of Yiddishkeit in Flatbush as we know it today. Just as Shimon HaTzadik said (Pirkei Avos 1:2) ? ?The world stands on three things ? on [the study of] Torah, the service [of Hashem] and deeds of kindness,? so to can it be said that the vibrant pace of frum Jewish life in Flatbush is based on three landmark pillars ? [in chronological order of their establishment in our community] ? the Mirrer Yeshiva, Yeshivas Rabbi Chaim Berlin and Mesivta Torah Vodaath. Speak to the old-timers who came to Flatbush more than 50 years ago and they will be the first to admit that this Brooklyn community then when compared to today, was a literal spiritual Midbar or wilderness. It wasn?t until 1960 that the first Shomer Shabbos grocery store opened up near Avenue M. But, Flatbush was beginning to attract Shomer Shabbos families, many with young children who were searching for a safe neighborhood as demographic resulted in the rapid decline of once vibrant kehillas such as Brownsville and Crown Heights. In part the fact that the Mirrer Yeshiva had been established in Flatbush on the corner of Ocean Parkway and Avenue R in 1950 was an attraction to many of these families that had boys. How to Help the Jewish Community? When Charles Schumer, today the senior United States Senator in Washington, D.C. from the State of New York had just become a Brooklyn Congressman whose district included a large swath of Flatbush, he spoke to Rabbi Moshe Sherer, zt?l, the president of Agudath Israel of America. He asked the national askan, ?What can I do as a congressman to help the Jewish community?? Rabbi Sherer answered him that ?if the yeshivos of the community are strong and grow and prosper, then the Jewish community in Flatbush will be strong and flourish.? He urged then Congressman Schumer to do all in his power to help the yeshivos in Flatbush develop to their full potential. Rabbi Pinchos Hecht, the executive director of the Mirrer Yeshiva told the Flatbush Jewish Journal that the origins of the Brooklyn yeshiva go back to the establishment of the original Mir Yeshiva in Poland. When Germany and Russia made an evil pact to invade Poland in 1939, the yeshiva managed to survive by getting travel visas to Japan from Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consulgeneral in Lithuania. Rav Avraham Kalmanowitz, zt?l With funds raised by Rav Avraham Kalmanowitz, zt?l, who had escaped to America, the Mir Yeshiva was able to buy tickets on the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Vlodisvostock and from there obtain passage on boats to Kobe, Japan. After six months, the Japanese government sent the students and rebbeim of the Mir Yeshiva to Shanghai, China which was occupied by the Japanese. Rav Kalmanowitz continued to send funds during the duration of the Second World War and support the yeshiva. After the Second World War ended, Rav Kalmanowitz purchased ship passage for the talmidim and faculty of the Mir Yeshiva to travel across the Pacific to San Francisco and then on transcontinental trains to New York where he reestablished the Mirrer Yeshiva in America, briefly in Far Rockaway and Brownsville, before purchasing the current location in Flatbush. Rav Kalmanowitz?s daughter married Rav Shmuel Berenbaum, zt?l, whose connection to the Mir Yeshiva was cemented by not only his years as an amazing masmid in Shanghai but also as an illuy in Mir, Poland. Following the petirah of Rav Kalmanowitz, Rav Berenbaum became with his brother-in-law, Rav Shraga Moshe Kalmanowitz, zt?l, the roshei hayeshiva of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Flatbush. Dynamic Mix of Shanghai Alumni in America In the early years of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Flatbush, the mixture was older students who had the incredible experience of learning with mesiras nefesh in Shanghai and a group of American-born talmidim. Many of the Shanghai students like Rav Berenbaum went on to teach in the Yeshiva and other Torah institutions around the nation. Many American boys would later say that their interaction with those bochurim who learned in the Mirrer in Shanghai dramatically changed their outlook on life in general and Yiddishkeit in particular. Over the years, thousands of boys and young men have learned in the various divisions of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Flatbush. Its graduates have included Rav Aryeh Kaplan, prolific author and translator of seforim; Rav Dovid Schwekey, Rosh Kollel of Mexico City; Rav Avigdor Slatus, Rav of Savannah, Georgia; and prominent Torah philanthropist, Rabbi Rubin Schron. Oldest Yeshiva in Brooklyn Around 1968 Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin moved to its new home in Flatbush on Coney Island Avenue between Avenues L and M, after more than 60 years in the once heavily Jewish Brooklyn community of Brownsville and a short stay thereafter in Far Rockaway, Queens. Established in 1904 as Yeshiva Tiferes Bachurim, it is the oldest yeshiva in Kings County. Ten years after it began, the name of the yeshiva was changed to honor the memory of Rav Chaim Berlin, zt?l, the son of Rav Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, zt?l. Rav Chaim Berlin who was nifter in 1912, was a prominent rabbinical leader in Lithuania and Russia, before moving to Yerushalayim where in the last years of his life he served as Chief Rabbi of the Ashkenazi community in the Holy City. The Legendary Rav Yitzchak Hutner, zt?l Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin rose to greatness as a result of the 44 years that the legendary Rav Yitzchak Hutner, zt?l served as Rosh Hayeshiva of the makom haTorah, first in Brownsville and finally in Flatbush. His move from the decaying Brownsville to Flatbush contributed to the rapid acceleration of Yiddishkeit in Flatbush. Dozens of families moved to the neighborhood specifically to be close to the yeshiva and the Rosh Hayeshiva whose reputation as a Torah scholar par excellance had spread around the Jewish world. Rav Hutner was a talmid of Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt?l, the Alter of Slobodka and he was greatly influenced by the Slobodkan school of mussar that emphasized the majesty of man and the ability of a Jew to majestically master Torah to better serve Hashem. With the establishment of the post-elementary division of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, Rav Hutner proclaimed his aim to create ?derhoibene talmidei chachamim? or Torah scholars of the highest caliber in both the realms of scholastic and spiritual development. Quoting from ?Pachad Yitzchak? Rav Yisroel Reisman, a musmach and rosh yeshiva of Mesivta Torah Vodaath frequently quotes generously from Rav Hutner?s classic sefer ?Pachad Yitzchak,? when explaining important hashkafah concepts to the large audiences that come to his Motzoi Shabbos Navi shiur that is held at Ahi Ezer Congregation in Flatbush. Following the petirah of Rav Hutner in 1980, Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin has been guided by Rav Aharon Schechter, shlita as Rosh Hayeshiva. A talmid muvhak of Rav Hutner, the current Rosh Hayeshiva endeavors to guide the many talmidim in the exalted pathways of his predecessor. Among the well-known Torah personalities of the past who Mesivta Torah Vodaath Mirrer Yeshiva Yeshivas Rabbi Chaim Berlin served as Mashgiach Ruchani of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin were Rav Avigdor Miller, zt?l and Rav Shlomo Freifeld, zt?l, who later was founder and Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshivas Shor Yoshuv in Far Rockaway. Another notable alumnus of the Yeshiva was Rav Noach Weinberg, zt?l, who established and was Rosh Hayeshiva of Aish HaTorah, a yeshiva based in Yerushalayim with kiruv divisions around the world. Established as Elementary School in 1917 Situated in the Kensington/ Flatbush section of Brooklyn is Mesivta Torah Vodaath which began in Williamsburg as an elementary school in 1917. Four years later the school hired as its principal Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, zt?l, who successfully crafted together a curriculum that was able to appeal to both the traditional and modern students. Among the noted alumni who attended Mesivta Torah Vodaath during the years that Rav Mendlowitz was in charge were Rav Menachem Manis Mandel, zt?l, later Menahel of the Yeshiva of Brooklyn in Flatbush, the Bos- toner Rebbe, zt?l, and Rav Avrohom Pam, zt?l, later Rosh Hayeshiva of Mesivta Torah Vodaath. The focus of Mesivta Torah Vodaath which moved from Williamsburg to our area around 1970 has always been to develop laymen with strong knowledge of the Torah who could be dynamic leaders in whichever kehillos they chose to live in. Prominent Graduates Helping the Klal Today Among the Mesivta?s graduates who today play an important role in educating future generations of talmidim in Mesivta Torah Vodaath are Rav Yisroel Belsky, shlita and Rav Yisroel Reisman, shlita. Other well-know musmachim of the makom haTorah are Rabbi Paysach J. Krohn, highly regarded mohel, Torah lecturer and author; and Rabbi Nosson Scherman, General Editor of ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications. Among the outstanding Torah scholars to have served as roshei yeshiva of Mesivta Torah Vodaath are Rav Avrohom Pam zt?l; Rav Shlomo Heiman, zt?l; Rav Dovid Leibowitz, zt?l; Rav Yaakov CoNTiNuED oN PAgE 34 18 | Flatbush Jewish Journal Thursday, May 13, 2010 718.692.1144 | www.flatbushjewishjournal.com

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