On Wednesday evening, March 8, Chazaq and TorahAnytime hosted a virtual yahrzeit event in memory of Rabbi Elyakim Getzel Rosenblatt zt”l, Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshiva Kesser Torah. Although this was the Rosh Yeshiva’s second yahrzeit, it was the first commemoration because of the COVID emergency.
Rabbi Avraham Dovid Garber, rav of Rabbi Rosenblatt’s shul, Yeshiva Kesser Torah, emceed the event. Rabbi Garber shared a d’var Torah. When Moshe spoke to Yehoshua about the sounds of the sin of the Golden Calf, he told him it was a sound of levity. Moshe was concerned about not disparaging klal Yisrael, even though what they were doing was terrible. He followed through on actions to stop it, but he made sure not to speak against the people. “Rabbi Rosenblatt exemplified this practice of never saying a disparaging word about any Jew.”
“We moved to Kew Gardens Hills so I could learn at Yeshiva Kesser Torah. He taught his talmidim how to daven and how to learn better, and he taught them how to be a mentch. He and the Rebbetzin became like family, and everyone learning there felt like family. We went to each other’s simchos. That type of environment made it a special place to be. Rabbi Rosenblatt changed all of our lives. This shul, Yeshiva Kesser Torah, is his legacy, and its always open for anyone of any background to come and daven and to feel welcome. Rebbetzin Rosenblatt built the beis midrash in the basement, and, im yirtzeh Hashem, as soon as possible in terms of COVID, there will be many shiurim going on there. This is what Rabbi Rosenblatt always wanted. All the learning and davening in this building is the legacy of the Rosh Yeshiva.”
Next, Moshe and Yaakov Rosenblatt completed a siyum l’zeicher nishmas their father. Yaakov Rosenblatt shared, “Baruch Hashem, Yeshiva Kesser Torah continues under my mother, and the minyanim continue to be available to the community. We look forward to more shiurim going on here.”
Yaakov shared that Ki Sisa means to raise up. “When you raise up klal Yisrael, then they will be protected. My father embodied this concept of raising people up and teaching them Torah. Yeshiva Kesser Torah is known for the slow, beautiful davening with moving nigunim and rikudim. My father always encouraged everyone to learn and to grow and to do more. He had many shiurim on TorahAnytime.” Yaakov added, “My father connected to everyone from little children to older people. He was able to connect to them and to help them to feel special. We should continue in his path to lift each other up.”
Next, Rabbi Shmuel Marcus, rav of the Young Israel of Queens Valley, shared how, when he first moved to Kew Gardens Hills, he and Rabbi Rosenblatt would pass each other on their way to shul on Shabbos. “I was first struck by his warm smile. That warmth and that smile were shared with any person he met.” He exemplified greeting everyone warmly with a smile.
Over the years, his ahavas Yisrael expressed itself. He took responsibility and expressed love for each Jew. He and his Rebbetzin did so much kiruv. He was the minyan where there was davening with so much kavanah. He absorbed lessons from the g’dolim he studied with, including Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l and Rav Henoch Leibowitz zt”l. “That joy in learning of Rav Kotler, Rabbi Rosenblatt exemplified; and the emphasis on midos and taking responsibility for klal Yisrael he learned from Rav Henoch.”
Rabbi Rosenblatt took pride in serving Rav Kotler and Rav Henoch. He had that youthful exuberance and aspiration to grow. His entire life was spent in his yeshivah beis midrash. “What a legacy he left for us! The way he took responsibility for the spiritual well-being of everyone else, we need to share that responsibility for the community. He created a place to pray and to learn for the entire community.”
Following this, Rabbi Ilan Meirov, Founder and Director of Chazaq, shared that Rabbi Rosenblatt prayed from the heart. He was very humble. “He was a man who had tremendous ahavas Yisrael. He was so caring for every Yid.” He had causeless love, which is something that is hard to come by today. He was the epitome of ahavas chinam. “He was an example living amongst us of loving your neighbor as yourself. Everyone felt at home with him. He made everyone feel special like he was his child. We have to aspire to be this way.” He left a thriving shul behind. Yeshiva Kesser Torah depicts a makom of kindness of achdus. He created this atmosphere.
We have to ask ourselves if we are conducting ourselves this way. Are we looking down on others because they practice different customs? We need true respect for each other so we can merit being in Yerushalayim this Pesach with the korban Pesach and the Beis HaMikdash rebuilt.
Then, Rabbi Leibel Rockove, rav of Khal Nachlas Avos, shared that he gave shiur in Yeshiva Kesser Torah in the early days of the yeshivah. He recalls Rabbi Rosenblatt’s m’nuchas ha’nefesh. “No matter what was going on in the world, he exuded peace.” David HaMelech found his serenity in the words of Torah and compared them to song.
Song has the ability to transport a person to a different world. “Song was a part of Yeshiva Kesser Torah.” There was singing and dancing on Friday night at the home of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Rosenblatt. Every single note is critical to the experience of song. So, too, with learning; Rabbi Rosenblatt was careful to study and teach every word of Rashi, and every Rishon and Acharon was appreciated. He created talmidim who became tremendous talmidei chachamim.
Next, Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, rav of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, shared that Rabbi Rosenblatt was a deep thinker.
He noted how the bells on the Kohen Gadol’s robe were interspersed with pomegranates to soften their sound, teaching us that you don’t always have to make a lot of noise to have impact. Rabbi Rosenblatt was not a headline grabber. He built this yeshivah and distributed his divrei Torah and taught Torah. His influence was widespread. Yeshiva Kesser Torah became known as the minyan spot. He provided that service to the community.
He shared that his father, Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld zt”l, was a great admirer of Rabbi Rosenblatt. He knew he was an ish emes. He told Rebbetzin Rosenblatt, “You’re husband was unique.” He brought together three facets: Rav Kotler, Rav Henoch, and melded them into chasidus.
“Rabbi Rosenblatt was a true walking kiddush Hashem.” Rabbi Schonfeld shared how Rabbi Rosenblatt was a wonderful singer. Rabbi Schonfeld noted that his favorite song is Or Chadash. “I just love that nigun.”
Following this, there was a short video that showed Rabbi Rosenblatt sharing divrei Torah and also singing. It was moving to see him on the screen, and it made us all realize how much we miss his presence.
To donate to Yeshiva Kesser Torah, go to www.YeshivaKesserTorah.org.
By Susie Garber