R Yisroel Sholom Yosef Friedman passed away yesterday, on his 95th birthday, that is. [My grandmother died on her 86th birthday, not that you care.] Not much is known about this quiet, unassuming man who managed the Ruzhiner Yeshivah in Yerushalayim for close to sixty years. He was the son of Reb Mordche Shlomo of Boyan-New York, and the brother in law of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, having married RHL's sister. Some years ago, when we discussed Boyan at the visit of the Boyaner Rebbe to Crown Heights for the wedding of his wife's cousin Nosson Gurary's child, Schneur mentioned him in passing, and dubbed him and his younger brother Yitzchok "MO lay people." "Yisrael has the personality, appearance and temper of a Rebbe," he said. "It's too bad he was not interested in the position. He would have met a fine Rebbe in the US," Schneur said. I guess what Schneur is saying is that he wishes that R Yisroel would have bucked the trend and had more of an impact in a much broader circle of Jews. What happened by him refusing the position was that we waited 14 years for a Boyaner Rebbe, who despite being an exceptional leader, moved to Israel and has no impact here, his accomplishments not withstanding.
I realize it sounds corny, using the term "Prince" just because he was a Ruzhiner eynikel, but what else would you suggest?
Baruch Dayan Emes.
As was the case with many pre War Rebbische kinder, he probably saw no future in being a rebbe in the US. In that sense he was wrong. Once he made that decision it affected his shidduchim, education, and social setting (friends) etc. He had regal bearing, was highly intelligent and a fine man, but the life decisions he made sort of prevented him from being a Rebbe when his father passed on. A word about Rabbi Brayer the present Rebbe. I do not know him, but I spoke to him on the phone several times concerning a business matter (about Torah) and he was such an anav and spoke in normal tones; what a contrast to lots of other Rebbes I have dealt with - although some are clearly wonderful people. If R. Brayer were in the US I do think he has what to "sell". I wonder if his Anash in Israel appreciate him. Mr. Friedman was a MO, which is not a shem genai, he was a professional social worker and a lover of books, as he collected festschriften (Sefer Yovlos). He ran the Boyaner shtibel on 441 (Emes) West End Ave. It was a nice place with him and Reb Sender Bistrizky ZT"L and others.
Rabbi Israel Friedman Zecher zaddik Livracha