On Sunday evening, March 31, community members gathered at Yeshiva Kesser Torah for a shiur in commemoration of the fifth yahrzeit of Rabbi Elyakim Getzel Rosenblatt zt”l, the Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshiva Kesser Torah. Some speakers spoke in person, and some were on Zoom. Yaakov Rosenblatt, a son of Rabbi Rosenblatt, spoke first. He shared a d’var Torah about the garments of the kohen. The kohen had to change his garments when he served in the Mishkan and in the Beis HaMikdash. This was teaching us an important idea that sometimes we have to do things that are not so easy or in our comfort zone, but we have to change into the “work clothes” and do what needs to be done as part of our avodas Hashem.

Rabbi Rosenblatt was very much this person. He was the same person by Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l and Rav Henoch Leibowitz zt”l – the yeshivah in Corona or in Kesser Torah in Kew Gardens Hills. He was always the same genuine person. He had the same respect for a person just becoming observant, and cherished him as he would someone who was a veteran Torah scholar. That was his approach. The common denominator between everyone is this is all retzon Hashem. This neshamah needs this approach or this one needs that approach. So, the garments have to be different. He always had respect and passion to engage with them.

“In the merit of this lesson, we had a living role model with us. Those lessons continue to stand as role models for us. The z’chuyos of the talmidim, mispallelim, and friends of Kesser Torah are standing for good merit for us. It’s a z’chus for my father’s neshamah. We should merit that he should be a meilitz yosher for us as he sees us going in his ways of midos and respect for every person. He taught that if there’s a Yid, he’s a Yid.”

Next, Moshe Rosenblatt, another son of Rabbi Rosenblatt, spoke. “I feel like my father is still here and really in everybody’s life. The Gemara teaches that when you take leave of a friend, you say: You should go in peace. When you take leave of a niftar, it says, “Go with shalom.” The Maharal says the difference is that when we take leave of friend, he is going somewhere and he’s trying to reach his shleimus. A niftar goes with his shleimus. I was thinking of my father’s accomplishments throughout his life. Even after he was ill in 2007, he gave over 500 shiurim on TorahAnytime, and he was very involved in the community in Kew Gardens Hills. He was there for all his talmidim and the whole family. He was a talmid of Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l and Rav Henoch Leibowitz zt”l. He was involved in the yeshivah in Corona and then he started Yeshiva Kesser Torah, which was first in Briarwood and then moved to Kew Gardens Hills. He leaves behind all the talmidim and their children and grandchildren. It’s tremendous shleimus. He was able to take that with him and go to Gan Eden. He should be a meilitz yosher for the mishpachah, the talmidim, and the extended mishpachah, and the entire community.

Following this, Shmuel Shields, a talmid of Rabbi Rosenblatt, spoke. First, he expressed hakaras ha’tov to Hashem for hashgachah pratis that guided him to the yeshivah. I believe every neshamah that came to Yeshiva Kesser Torah needed to be with the Rosh Yeshivah for its personal growth. Every story is so unique of how they came there from all over the country. He shared that he had been living in Briarwood for three years, and a friend named Gedaliah Rabinowitz asked him if he’d like to meet Rabbi Rosenblatt, the Rosh Yeshivah of Kesser Torah. I said to myself, Where is this yeshivah?

Gedaliah told him that the yeshivah was in Briarwood. “I got such a welcome from Rabbi Rosenblatt. You could see his love for every Jew and what a unique person he was.”

He sat in on a shiur and he said that he knew he’d found his home.” I felt I was in Gan Eden. I enjoyed the shiurim so much with all the rebbeim, and having him as a rebbi. He infused into us that there are hundreds of talmidim. Most of us didn’t have yeshivah education growing up. It was hard to feel integrated. He made us feel we had a place in the Torah world, that we belonged, and we could learn. Such a special feeling he gave us.” Mr. Shields shared that Rabbi Rosenblatt infused in his talmidim with love of Torah, enthusiasm for learning, and yir’ah. He had an awe.

You got to see p’shat in the words of the Gemara. Rabbi Rosenblatt and the Rebbetzin were reviving Jewish neshamos. “They really made a place in their hearts and home for all of us. We should always be able to see him as our role model. He recalled his kindness, his humility, the musar he taught, and his smile. “I have so much hakaras ha’tov to Rebbetzin Rosenblatt, Rabbi Garber, and the Rosenblatt family for continuing Rabbi Rosenblatt’s legacy.”

Next, Rabbi Avraham Dovid Garber, Rav of Yeshiva Kesser Torah, shared a d’var Torah that taught that Moshe wasn’t afraid to admit that he had forgotten a halachah. He publicly admitted that he forgot a law. The Netziv says that Moshe sent out a public announcement that he had erred, I order to teach that a person should never be embarrassed to admit a mistake. “Greatness is not never making a mistake, but rather it is being able to overcome any embarrassment and to admit when you are wrong.” He taught us that we have to be able to be humble and to be willing to admit to a mistake. Hashem has many messengers. Rabbi Garber shared how his shaliach was Rabbi Michael Skobac, Senior Director in Canada for Jews for Judaism. He told Rabbi Garber about this new yeshivah in Briarwood. The Rosh Yeshivah was so welcoming. So, like many others, he quit his law job and went to learn. “Rabbi Rosenblatt taught me the right way to daven and how to say a d’var Torah. I learned so much from him. He changed my life, and my wife’s life, and our children’s lives.”

One of Rabbi Rosenblatt’s teachings was: The three hardest words in the English language are “I was wrong.” People with tremendous caliber and intellect were in Yeshiva Kesser Torah and they all came together there to learn. He shared that it was an amazing group and they’ve kept in touch over all these years. “I have hakaras ha’tov to Rabbi Rosenblatt, the Rebbetzin, and all the Rosenblatts. Rebbetzin Rosenblatt and I have been working together on behalf of Kesser Torah these past five years. She’ll let me know her opinion. She has good advice. She’s kept Kesser Torah going.”

It’s become a huge asset to the Queens Jewish community. So many people come here at all hours. You don’t have to worry about finding a minyan. Magically, people just walk in the door a few minutes before the appointed time. It’s a z’chus to the Rosh Yeshivah for everything he did. He gets continuous z’chuyos from his own family, but also from all his talmidim and all people coming here on a regular basis. Some 1,000 people come in and out every day. Davening in Kesser Torah is quiet and slow. I often see roshei yeshivah davening here.

Next, there were some video clips of the Rosh Yeshivah. His shmoozes are on YeshivaKesserTorah.org. He also has nigunim of the davening.

Rabbi Rosenblatt wasn’t just an amazing teacher. He was an amazing baal t’filah who also wrote so many beautiful nigunim.

Everyone left inspired by this beautiful commemoration of Rabbi Rosenblatt.

 By Susie Garber