Thursday, May 19, 2005

R. Shlomo Wolbe zt"l

Following up from this post, the following letter was published in the London Jewish Tribune, in response to this eulogy of R. Shlomo Wolbe by R. Jonathan Rosenblum:

Dear Sir,

While Jonathan Rosenblum (JT 5th May) has written a beautiful and masterly appreciation of the life, educational work and greatness of Rav Wolbe Zl, I think it is most important not to be guilty of re-writing history, albeit by omission. Everything written about this giant's Torah education, loyalties and student of Gedolim is absolutely correct yet..... Although I was not yet born at the time, I have reliable information from both my Father Dayan Grunfeld Zl and separately from my Mother OH, Fraulein Dr. Judit Rosenbaum at the time. Rav Wolbe Zl was an amazing product of a very powerful and significant Hashpo'oh during the early part of the twentieth century namely the V.A.D. (Verein Judische Academiker). This openly orthodox Students' Union, unlike the type of thing in British Institutions had a powerful influence in the Kiruv of many initially unorthodox students. People of the stature of Rav Yechiel Weinberg, Rabbis Elie Munk, Rabbi Dr. H. Cohn, Dr. Med. Wallach (Founder of Sha'arei Tzedek Hospital) Dr. Med. Schlesinger, Dr. Jud. I. Grunfeld, and many others had a great influence on students in various different Faculties. These were all frum senior students deeply rooted in the Torah Im Derech Eretz style, which is so unpopular today. There was just a special student called, Gustav Karl Friedrich Wolbe, who attended University between the years of 1930-1933, and who, as a result of the regular Shiurim, Torah discussion and guidance of such Alumni in German university institutions, was among the very first to embrace full, observant Yiddishkeit, as well as setting aside regular Ittim LeTorah. They were all introduced to the contents of our revered Mussar Seforim under the guidance of Yekkische mentors whose Hashkofoh was faithfully modeled on the Samson Refoel Hirsch Zl religious pattern of combining secular and Lehavdil Elef Peomim, Torah knowledge.

Indeed, many of the founders of orthodox vital institutions in Eretz Yisroel were of frum, educated Yekkishe origin, like for example, Dr. Shmuel (Leo) Deutschlander of Beis Ya'akov fame. I feel it my duty, by reason of seniority in age and firsthand knowledge of contemporary Jewish History to put the latter on record.

(Dr) Anne Ruth Cohn

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