Friday, March 28, 2008

Yahrtzeit of One of the Founders of Yeshiva University

From the website of The Jewish Press (link):

Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), the rabbinic affiliate of Yeshiva University, was founded in 1897. My great-grandfather, David Abramowitz, along with Rabbi Moses Mayer Matlin and Rabbi Yehuda David Bernstein were the three founders of RIETS.

Mr. Abramowitz was the secretary of RIETS and he made the announcement of the creation of Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary on January 15, 1897:

Click here to read more“The Yeshiva of the Great Gaon Rabbi Isaac Elchanan, may his memory be a blessing, is now being organized. The purpose of the Yeshiva is (to enroll) children who can study a page of Talmud with Tosafot. A daily “shiur” will be taught by a Rosh Yeshiva (a teacher of advanced Talmudic subjects) and a teacher will give instructions in the language of the land.”

My great-grandfather, as secretary of RIETS, was responsible for the school’s finances, and served the Yeshiva as executive director, manager, comptroller, bookkeeper, registrar, and dean of men. When a student entered the school, he would be registered and interviewed by David Abramowitz. Being a high school guidance counselor myself, I can relate to all the hard and rewarding work that must have gone into his job. My great-grandfather’s job differed from mine, however, because he was also responsible for affording entering students a stipend upon admittance to the school. He was in charge of an array of aspects that pertained to the smooth running of the school, and he showed with his undying devotion how much he yearned to provide Jewish education to create a strong generation of Jews in the future.

Not only did my great-grandfather help establish a unique institution for Jewish education, but he also set up a home that he filled with words of torah and acts of chesed, and showed his children the path of wholly goodness. He and his wife, Sarah, had seven children. Their sixth child was my grandfather Max (Mordechai). He too was a kindhearted, hardworking, caring gentleman, and was dedicated to creating a home of ever-present learning and love of Judaism. Their seventh child, Rabbi Samuel J. Abrams, headed a congregation in Brookline, Massachusetts. Most recently, we reunited with his family after a 50-year period.

David Abramowitz died on March 24, 1916 (19th of Adar 2).

On his tombstone, it sums up the life of this pious man:

“The Founder of Yeshivat Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan.

Here is buried, a dear soul, a famous man from a respected family; his work was in charitable actions. For days and years he went in the righteous path. Tears will fall from our eyes and eyelashes. From his sons and daughters, his wife and close ones, our beauty was taken from us. The crown of our head is our father and teacher. David, son of the righteous man, Yehoshua, passed away on the 19th of Adar 2. His life should be tied to the lives of the living.”

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