Remembering Rabbi Gershon Yankelewitz

Yeshiva University and RIETS Family Mourn Passing of Rabbi Gershon Yankelewitz zt”l

Yeshiva University and its affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) are saddened by the loss of Rabbi Gershon Yankelewitz, who passed away on August 19. The longtime senior Rosh Yeshiva was 104.

Rabbi Gershon Yankelewitz zt"l
Rabbi Gershon Yankelewitz zt”l

“Rabbi Yankelewitz by his nature and learning so represented both our history and our destiny,” said YU President Richard M. Joel. “For over half a century he taught his students how to learn and how to live. We will always remember him.”

Born in Lubcza, Poland in 1909, Rabbi Yankelewitz studied in the Radin Yeshiva until the death of its founder, the Chofetz Chaim. Rabbi Yankelewitz then continued his studies at the legendary Mir Yeshiva in Russia, before being forced to flee from the Nazis at the start of World War II. The entire yeshiva relocated to Kobe, Japan before eventually settling in Shanghai, China, where they remained until 1947. Rabbi Yankelewitz joined Yeshiva University in 1958 and has given a daily shiur at RIETS for semicha [rabbinic ordination] and college students for more than five decades.

“Rabbi Yankelewitz was an extraordinary person,” said Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, dean emeritus of RIETS. “He was a man of God and a man of principle, who brought with him the Torah learning from the great European yeshivas. His students were devoted to him and he was dedicated to them.”

“As someone who was fortunate enough to be a talmid [student] in his shiur, I saw what type of tzadik [righteous person] he was up close,” said Rabbi Chaim Bronstein, senior RIETS administrator. “It was a great privilege to have known him all these years.

“It is so far beyond impossible to capture who the niftar [deceased] was not just because of the longevity of the niftar or the many worlds that he lived in, but simply because of who he was,” said Rabbi Menachem Penner, Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS, addressing a crowd of hundreds at the August 20 levaya [funeral] held in Yeshiva University’s Gluech Beit Midrash. “It’s easy to focus today on the arichas yamim [long life] of the niftar, to say that what was so special about him was that he had such unbelievable arichas yamim and was still teaching at Yeshiva. But the hespedim [eulogies] give us a sense of not just how many years he was blessed to teach, but mostly just how he taught and learned.”

Watch video of the levaya:

Read more about Rabbi Yankelewitz in VosIzNeias.

Rabbi Yankelewitz’s wife, Bluma, passed away in 2010. He is survived by his sons, all of whom serve the Jewish community, Dovid, Yaakov, Yoel and Moshe, and his daughters, Devorah Fromowitz, Gity Lipsius, and Perl Gross, and their spouses and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Rabbi Moshe Yankelewitz will be sitting shiva for his father at his home, 59 Idaho, Passaic, NJ, from Wednesday evening through Friday afternoon. There will be a mincha/maariv minyan on both Wednesday and Thursday at 7:25pm, and a Shacharis minyan on Thursday and Friday morning at 7am. From Sunday morning through Tuesday morning Rabbi Yankelewitz will be sitting shiva at 827 Waring Avenue, Bronx, NY.

May Hashem comfort the family with all those who mourn for Zion and Jerusalem.