Photos by Saul Joseph/Universe Promotions

Yeshiva Kesser Torah needs our help. Sadly, the Rosh HaYeshiva, Rav Elyakim Getzel Rosenblatt zt”l, was niftar before Pesach and the Rebbetzin is bravely carrying on the work of her husband. Now the Yeshiva needs the community’s help in order to continue the work of the Rosh HaYeshiva.

Community members, alumni of Yeshiva Kesser Torah, local rabbanim, and local politicians gathered to honor the memory of Rav Rosenblatt zt”l at the annual Yeshiva Kesser Torah breakfast held at the Yeshiva of Central Queens on Sunday morning, May 19.

Mr. David Reich shared that this is his 16th year as breakfast chairman, and his father before him was the chairman for 40 years. He noted, “This year is bittersweet, as we lost Rav Rosenblatt before Pesach.” He announced that the Yeshiva is currently in dire straits financially, and that we need to step up and help to keep the Yeshiva going. Mr. Reich pointed out two things that really stood out to him about Rav Rosenblatt: V’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha” and Ivdu es Hashem b’simchah.” “Everything he did, he did with simchah.”

A former talmid of Yeshiva Kesser Torah, Rabbi Avraham Dovid Garber, this writer’s husband, shared a d’var Torah about S’firas HaOmer. Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky quotes the following midrash about S’firas HaOmer: “When B’nei Yisrael left Egypt, they asked Hashem, “Didn’t You promise we would receive the Torah?” Immediately, they began to count each day. According to Rav Yaakov, this midrash shows the tremendous love klal Yisrael had for the Torah. Moshe was so instilled with ahavas haTorah that he wanted to know right away when they would receive the Torah. Klal Yisrael was given the mitzvah of S’firas HaOmer because they were so anxious for the Torah that they began to count each day for the Torah to be given. Rabbi Garber shared, “This ahavas Torah is certainly one attribute imbued in the Rosh HaYeshiva. Just a few months ago, at the annual melaveh malkah, he told one of his favorite stories of Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l, dancing because he had figured out the p’shat in a Gra after 25 years.

Rabbi Garber shared, “I quit my law job 37 years ago to learn at Yeshiva Kesser Torah, and this love of Torah is why I was attracted to the yeshivah. “I learned much more than Gemara, Rashi, and Tosafos being around the Rosh Yeshiva for all these years. He not only constantly talked about midos tovos, but everything he did reflected that. When I led the davening, he always made me feel good, no matter how well I davened. He would say things like, ‘We just found a new baal Musaf.’ When I made a mistake in davening, he never criticized me or even said anything to me at the time. Instead, he would come over to me later and say what a good job I did, and then he would say, you know you could even do it better.”

Rabbi Garber noted that he always made you feel good, even when you did something wrong. He shared how, once, he drove the Rosh Yeshiva home and he ran out of gas. He was embarrassed as he had to walk to a gas station to buy gas in a can to have enough to continue on his way. Rav Rosenblatt just thanked him for the ride.

“The Rav loved any Jew who walked into shul. He always was given an aliyah, and later Rabbi Rosenblatt would speak with him and make him feel welcome. Every drashah that Rabbi Rosenblatt delivered was an inspiring drashah about midos or learning Torah. No matter the current events, the Rosh HaYeshiva never got involved in politics. He said, ‘The parshah is my current events.’” He expressed hakaras ha’tov for all that the Rabbi and Rebbetzin have done for our family and influencing us in so many ways.

Next, another former talmid of the Yeshiva, Mr. Lee Nigun, shared a teaching in Pirkei Avos and spoke of the need to continue the legacy of the Rosh HaYeshiva. “Let us make sure it continues. We need to continue the legacy.”

Following this, Rabbi Zev Rosenblatt, brother of Rav Rosenblatt, shared, “Every successful rabbi has a rebbetzin behind him. Rebbetzin Trani was behind him. She devoted her life to help Rabbi Rosenblatt.” He stated that over 1,000 people paid a shiv’ah call for his brother. This shows the tremendous influence he had on the community. Kesser Torah hosts 24 minyanim for Minchah and Maariv. He offered a brachah that Kesser Torah should continue, and the minyanim should multiply.

After this, Councilman Rory Lancman spoke about Rav Rosenblatt. “He was so full of happiness and joy and ruach!” Councilman Lancman stated, “He was a wonderful leader. He gave us advice. I miss him very much.” He added, “My office will continue to support the Yeshiva.”

Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal spoke briefly. “There isn’t anyone in the community who hasn’t benefited from the little house – this mekom Torah in the center of our community.” Assemblyman Rosenthal continued, “You could feel Rabbi Rosenblatt’s sincerity. The work he did and what he built will continue to live on. It was a pleasure on a personal and a professional level to know Rabbi Rosenblatt.”

Following this, Rav Rosenblatt’s son, Mr. Yaakov Rosenblatt, shared that it is fitting to have this breakfast in memory of his father on Pesach Sheini. “My parents dedicated their lives to the idea that’s it never too late to change. There is always something we can do.” He added, “My father focused on every person’s tremendous neshamah. He was able to lift up every person. Through everyone’s continued support and friendship, things should not just continue but increase.” Both sons of the Rosh HaYeshiva, Mr. Yaakov Rosenblatt and Mr. Moshe Rosenblatt, then completed a siyum Mishnayos. Yaakov Rosenblatt shared that the only way to have blessing in our lives is with shalom. Shalom is the biggest brachah.” He stated, “There should be shalom in Eretz Yisrael and the whole world.”

The last speaker, Mr. Bernie Shafran, well-known community leader, pointed out the huge number of daily minyanim at Yeshiva Kesser Torah, with an average of 30-40 mispal’lim. Also, people utilize the Yeshiva during the day to sit and learn. “Actions speak louder than words. Rabbi Rosenblatt’s eidelkeit, the way he davened, his nigunim, the way he dealt with people – he was in a class by himself.”

Mr. Shafran stated, “Yeshiva Kesser Torah is a reflection of who the Rosh HaYeshiva was.” He then noted that the beauty of Torah is compared to the beauty of a shirah. A choral symphony has every group of singers singing something different. Everyone has his own nuance, but when everyone sings all together in one beautiful voice, it’s spectacular to listen to. “That is Kesser Torah. We all daven our own nusach. There, Ashkenazim, Sefardim, all different Jews together. When 1,000 people come to Yeshiva Kesser Torah and each of us sits side by side, there is tremendous achdus.” He continued, “Yeshiva Kesser Torah defines our community at large, and it is incumbent on each of us to help defray the Yeshiva’s debt.” He shared that the Yeshiva has a debt of $100,000; and if 100 people each comes forward and donates $1,000, then the debt will be paid. He added that six people already came forward. “Rabbi Rosenblatt dedicated his life to the community and klal Yisrael. We should stand up and be counted and be sure that the legacy of the Rosh HaYeshiva continues, so Yeshiva Kesser Torah continues to be a mekom Torah and an inspiration to our community.”

He then presented an award to Rebbetzin Rosenblatt for her husband’s and her work for the community.

 By Susie Garber