Tuesday, January 20, 2009
הרב דוד האלענדער ז"ל
(Rabbi Hollander in Moscow, June, 1956, 3rd from left)
"End of an era" may sound cliche' to most of us, but it really is. Gone are the old time American Rabbonim who could darshen with the best of them and stick to their guns regarding Yiddishkeit. Known as "public enemy number one" when it came to the Reform and Conservative Movements, Rabbi Hollander often traveled to the Soviet Union during the very dark days - maybe not so according to commenter "UD" - bringing Tashmishei Kedusha and hope to his brothers and sisters there. As was usually the case with such Rabbonim and Askonim; Rabbi H was in close contact with the Rebbe and Lubavitch, בתוך שאר גדולי ישראל, often attending farbrengens and visiting the Rebbe, both in yechidus and on Sunday mornings. IIRC he was also a brother in law to the late Rabbi Moshe Sherer, their wives being sisters, not that he used that protektzia to help him much in life...
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Baruch Dayan Emes. Sar gadol Nafal beYisroel
I got to know Rav Hollander the last 10 years of his life , although I had seen him many years earlier. He was the pioneer in Soviet Jewry work. He established contacts there and visited Russia many times. He also lectured and wrote about his trips, thus bringing the issue of Soviet Jewry to the attention of American Jewry. He was a friend of the rabbinic community in Russia and was instrumental in bringing Rav Levin from Moscow in 1967, and Rav Levin spent a Shabbos in the Bronx. He was a Rav in a huge shul in the BRONX, Mt. Eden Jewish Center where hundreds heard his sermons. The grand concourse was the heart of Jewish Bronx. Later he moved to Brighton Beach and dealt with a dwindling congregation. He was the brother in law of the late R. Moshe Sherer, both married sisters the daughters of Rav Fortman of Far Rockaway. His shvogger's success, affected Rabbi Hollander's personality in different ways. Rabbi Hollander was never involved in the Agudah, but served as president of the Poalei Aguda for many years.
R. Hollander was a Modern Orthodox Rabbi, he was not yeshivish or chasidic. He graduated YC and RIETS, and served as President of the RCA. He was in favor of secular studies and read daily various newspapers and journals. He differed with many MO Rabbis, especially men like Rabbonim Rackman and Lookstein over recognition of non-Orthodox ministers as Rabbis. In this he became a 1 issue candidate. He opposed the NY Board of Rabbis and the Synagogue Council, and after years of battle he emerged the victor!
When I wrote an article in the Algemeiner about Rav Aron Kotler he blasted me the next week in print for not mentioning Reb Aron's anti Reform policies. Of course that was true, but R. Kotler's real achievements were the Beth Medrash Govoha and the creation of a rabbinic elite in the US, as well as his activities for the Agudah, and Chinuch Atzmai. But I could not get Rabbi H to understand that. But we became friends, and I assisted him in finding sources and books, and he was very grateful and he believed in hakoras hatov. He was an Ish Emes, although he wrote for the Algemeiner, he attacked Lubavitch on occasions when young shluchim abandoned the hard line Rabbi Hollander erected against non Orthodox Rabbis.
Girsa d'yonkesa. He was of Hungarian extraction, and austrit and kavod harrabanus was his hallmark, the apple does not fall far from the tree. A note: I heard that it was not the Rebbe who urged them to grow beards, but private Jews who had been in Russia told them that in Russia no frum Jew would take them seriously thus the whole group grew a chasimas zaken. Much more to write. To our sorrow he had no children so those who feel close to him should do something to memorialize his personality.
Zecher Tzaddik Livroche.