Jun 11, 2007 — Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), an affiliate of Yeshiva University, honored distinguished RIETS rosh yeshiva (professor of Talmud) Rabbi Meir Goldwicht, along with Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg and Rabbi Mordechai Besser, at a dinner celebrating Torah excellence at YU on Sunday, June 10, in New York City. More than 500 rabbis, lay leaders, congregants, family members, and friends from the tri-state area attended the event.
President Richard M. Joel called the three honorees “pillars of the rabbinical community.” The dinner program featured rousing tributes to the rabbis. “The phrase ‘Torah excellence’ needs no full explanation,” said Julius Berman, chairman of the RIETS Board of Trustees, to the attentive crowd. “It is the desire and all-encompassing drive to share their Torah knowledge with others.”
Rabbi Goldwicht, who is the Joel and Maria Finkle Visiting Israeli Rosh Yeshiva and a rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University’s undergraduate Yeshiva Program/Mazer School of Talmudic Studies, is a prominent Israeli scholar and educator. He is head rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University’s Irving I. Stone Beit Midrash Program. A popular lecturer who delivers over 1,000 inspiring shiurim (lectures) every year, Rabbi Goldwicht was described as “an absolute phenomenon” by Rabbi Zevulun Charlop for his colorful style that captivates the Yeshiva student body, communities around the United States and in Israel. “He’s a shiur machine with a heart,” said President Joel.
Rabbi Hochberg, who leads the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates and is mashgiach ruchani (spiritual advisor) of Stern College for Women, received the RIETS Distinguished Rabbinic Leadership award. He was recently elected president of the Rabbinical Council of America, an organization of Orthodox rabbis established in 1935. “Rabbi Hochberg is filled with an overwhelming sense of mission and devoted to the service of his people,” said Julius Berman.
Rabbi Besser, principal of Manhattan Day School, received the RIETS Educator of the Year award for his exemplary leadership and guidance to hundreds of students every year. He resides in Kew Gardens Hills, NY. President Joel called Rabbi Besser “an educator par excellence” and a model for generations of educators.
“The most important thing is to love the child,” said Rabbi Besser. “It’s more important than mathematics, than anything else. That will motivate him or her to do so much more.”
Rabbi Hochberg and Rabbi Besser are musmakhim (rabbinical graduates) of RIETS. The tribute dinner also recognized the 25th and 50th anniversary classes of RIETS.
Yeshiva College Board member A. Richard Parkoff introduced Rabbi Dr. Gilbert Klaperman, who presented the first annual Rabbi Dr. Gilbert Klaperman Prize in Talmud and Comparative Law to Shmuel Segal, a student attending both RIETS and Harvard Law School. Mr. Segal is the grandson of the renowned Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik and the grandnephew of Rabbi Dr. Joseph Soloveitchik, “The Rav” — the Talmud scholar, philosopher, author, and teacher, who ordained some 2,000 rabbis in his 45 year affiliation with RIETS.
RIETS Board member Rabbi Joel Schrieber spoke of RIETS’ new outreach program, which is part of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future. “CJF is the brainchild of Richard Joel,” he said. “It’s a leadership incubator that is creating a global movement.”
General chairman of the dinner was Steven Adelsberg, secretary of Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. Honorary chairman was Maria Finkle, who established, with her late husband Joel, the RIETS Joel and Maria Finkle Visiting Israeli Rosh Yeshiva Program.