On Tuesday, July 12, the Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim, gathered together with family and friends at Khal Mevakshei Hashem, located in Lawrence, New York, where Rabbi Yussie Zakutinsky serves as rav, to commemorate the 18th yahrzeit of its legendary Executive Vice-President, Rabbi Nachum Zvi Josephy, zt”l, HaRav Nachum Tzvi ben HaRav Chaim.
Rabbi Shlomo Segal opened the program by reciting T’hilim 130. Mr. Eliezer Garfinkel, a former congregant and vice-president of Bais Medrash HaGadol, Rabbi Josephy’s shul, spoke on behalf of the family. “Rabbi Josephy was beloved by all who met him. He dedicated his life to klal Yisrael. One of Rabbi Josephy’s crowning achievements was his warm embrace of Jews from the Soviet Union and Uzbekistan. He single-handedly worked with Jews from Uzbekistan and helped to raise their level of observance and their integration into the Jewish community.
“Rabbi Josephy’s reach was broad. Wherever you go — from Mexico City to Houston, to Los Angeles, to Pittsburgh, to Borough Park — people will tell you that he was there for them. From the proverbial Dan to Be’er Sheva, Rabbi Josephy’s legacy lives on.”
Rabbi Meir Melnicke, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Igud HaRabbonim and a close family friend of Rabbi Josephy, spoke next. “Talking about Rabbi Josephy is no simple task. It would take hours to even begin to do him justice. Rabbi Josephy was the tzitzis of Los Angeles. Rabbi Josephy spoke softly and convinced people to embrace Yiddishkeit. He came to Los Angeles when Yiddishkeit was starting to grow and became one of its main architects. Rabbi Josephy proudly wore a shtreimel down the streets of Los Angeles at a time when observant people did not even own one. Rabbi Josephy made the shtreimel popular, fashionable, and trendy. He influenced people one on one. Many people are observant today thanks to his efforts.”
Bnai Rabbi Zvi Mandel, from Kahal Yisrael, recounts how he often visited Rabbi Josephy in his synagogue and saw that he had many members from Uzbekistan. “Rabbi Josephy told me that he has the highest admiration and respect for these Jews of Uzbekistan. They came from an area that for the last 400 years had no rabbis. Their Yiddishkeit came from the faith and respect that they had for their parents and grandparents. As a rabbi, I find their devotion to Yiddishkeit so admirable and strong that it strengthens my own connection to Yiddishkeit. I am honored to have them part of my synagogue. Rabbi Josephy was able to model and strengthen this faith by drawing everyone to him as if they were family.”
Rabbi Yussie Zakutinsky, rav of Khal Mevakshei Hashem, commented that the greatest example of leadership was Moshe Rabbeinu. His strongest character trait was thinking not that he was necessary and essential for klal Yisrael but asking what is needed of him. The Josephy family is renowned for being in the forefront of helping klal Yisrael in any way they can. They come from the leadership perspective of Moshe, always asking where they are needed and where they can lend support to make Hashem’s will a reality. Their community service, their charity work, and care and devotion for others is voluminous. Their hard work is done quietly, behind the scenes. They handle with pleasure and love the tedious work that is often less valued because they understand their purpose is to fortify am Yisrael and to provide help wherever it is needed. They get this trait from their illustrious father. The imprint of Rabbi Nachum Zvi Josephy zt”l through his family, talmidim, and friends lives in their achievements for klal Yisrael, their work to further Torah u’mitzvos.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, the Executive Vice-President of the Igud HaRabbonim, remarked that “Rabbi Josephy gave faith to everyone. He gave faith to his family, friends, and the Jewish people. At the Igud HaRabbonim, he made every Rosh Chodesh conference special. He made every rabbi from the diverse Orthodox communities they represented feel welcome, special, and important. Through this unity and love, he helped his colleagues become better rabbis, spiritual guides, and leaders. We at the Igud HaRabbonim owe Rabbi Josephy a debt we can never repay. Only Hashem can reward Rabbi Josephy. Sadly, his absence has left a void that no one can fill. However, we try to emulate Rabbi Josephy the best we can in order to serve klal Yisrael.”
Also participating in the Rosh Chodesh Tamuz conference and seudah was Rabbi Moish Schmerler, Administrative Director of the Igud HaRabbonim; Rabbi Yehuda Blank, Director of the Programing, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs of the Igud HaRabbonim, who gave an update on some of the wonderful programing ideas he is working on; and Rabbi Simcha Hopkovitz, Rabbi of the Young Israel of Hewlett, an upcoming, young and energetic star in the rabbinate who gave an erudite d’var Torah.