Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh Invested as the Ruth Buchbinder Mitzner Professor of Talmud and Jewish Law

David Mitzner shows Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh a copy of the book written about his life.

Apr 24, 2007 — In a moving ceremony at Houston’s United Orthodox Synagogue, the investiture of Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh as the first occupant of the Ruth Buchbinder Mitzner Chair in Talmud and Jewish Law at the Yeshiva University in Israel campus took place on April 14. The chair was established through a $1-million gift from David Mitzner and his son and daughter-in-law, Ira and Mindy, in honor of their late wife and mother, Ruth Buchbinder Mitzner.

The ceremony, attended by the extended Mitzner family and more than 400 members of the Houston community, was part of a weekend of activities in Houston sponsored by the Mitzner family. YU President Richard M. Joel presided over the investiture and later addressed the community; Rabbi Bednarsh, rosh yeshiva at YU’s RIETS Israel Kollel, delivered the Shabbat morning sermon and led a Torah study session.

“We could not have been more satisfied with how my mother’s memory was honored by the investiture and all of Yeshiva University’s presence during the weekend,” said Ira Mitzner, a 1981 alumnus of Yeshiva College and a lay leader in the Houston community.

In the early years of World War II, David Mitzner was a courier between the Russian and German zones, helping compatriots escape persecution from the Nazis. He was sent to a Siberian gulag after being caught and served eight years of hard labor before coming to America and establishing a successful real estate development business.

“David is the quintessential success story, both in his career and in terms of transmitting his heritage to the next generation, making sure that Judaism flourished both in his family and in the broader Jewish community,” said Rabbi Bednarsh, a former Beren Kollel and Wexner Graduate fellow at YU.

Ruth Buchbinder Mitzner, whose father was a renowned Torah scholar and the rabbi of the largest Orthodox synagogue in Harlem, grew up during the 1920s. She and her family later moved to Jerusalem, where her father assisted H’Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, the first chief rabbi of Palestine. During her life, Ruth dedicated herself to helping Jewish people throughout the world.

“I feel honored to continue the legacy of Ruth Mitzner by teaching Torah in Israel and preparing the next generation of rabbis to lead the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Bednarsh.

The weekend concluded with a YU community council meeting hosted by Shira Yoshor ’89S, vice chairman of the Stern College Board, discussing future YU involvement in Houston.

“The weekend was a fitting tribute to a family who represents communal leadership and philanthropy,” said Rabbi Richard C. Bieler ’74Y, R, B, YU senior executive director for community affairs. “Our time in Houston gave us a real sense of the Mitzners’ legacy and our responsibility to perpetuate that legacy.”

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