It is special when Hashem gives you the opportunity to thank someone who has changed your life. Yeshiva Kesser Torah’s Rabbi and Rebbetzin, Rabbi Elyakim Rosenblatt zt”l and Rebbetzin Trani Rosenblatt, have changed so many people’s lives, including the lives of this writer and her family, and the rosh yeshivah’s legacy continues to impact our community.
Michael Poulad, dinner chairman, welcomed the large crowd of alumni, community members, local rebbeim, and supporters of Yeshiva Kesser Torah.
Dr. Shmuel Shields, well-known nutritionist, speaker, and former talmid of Yeshiva Kesser Torah, shared a short tribute: “I want to express hakaras ha’tov to Hashem that through His unique hashgachah pratis, He allowed hundreds of talmidim to come to Yeshiva Kesser Torah. Some came from near and some from far. Each one has a fascinating story of how he came. All of us had one thing in common and that was that when we came to Yeshiva Kesser Torah, we inherited another set of parents, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Rosenblatt. Anyone who learned there knows that they took care of us in every area: spiritually, emotionally, physically, socially, and psychologically. The Yeshiva took people from all different backgrounds, and we want to thank you for all you have done for us. The reason the Yeshiva was and is so successful is that everything was done with a tremendous love for every Jew.”
Following this, Rabbi Herschel Welcher, rav of Congregation Ahavas Yisroel, spoke. He shared that he has a long association with Rabbi and Rebbetzin Rosenblatt. Forty years back, he taught in the Yeshiva on Grand Central Parkway. With this long history, it is meaningful to be here tonight, he related.
Rabbi Welcher then shared that Chazal teach us that when you perform many mitzvos, they come and then they go. One thing that endures is establishing a mekom Torah or a mikvah. That carries on. This is a special z’chus of Rabbi Rosenblatt and Rebbetzin Rosenblatt for the mekom Torah they built.
He shared a personal experience of needing a minyan late at night when he was in another neighborhood. He couldn’t find one, and then he realized that he could come back to Kew Gardens Hills and there would be a minyan at Yeshiva Kesser Torah at 11 p.m. “It’s a beis ha’k’neses that functions round the clock.” At night, there is a minyan every half hour. “It’s amazing how it functions.” He noted that there are 4,000 minyanim a year. What a phenomenal z’chus! In addition to providing a place for t’filah b’tzibur, the Rebbetzin has graciously set up a special beis midrash in the basement for learning. So, there is Torah learning downstairs and t’filah upstairs. “It’s an enduring mitzvah!”
“The things that Rabbi Rosenblatt set in motion carry on for generations. The talmidim that the Rabbi and the Rebbetzin established have grandchildren today who are b’nei Torah. This is a z’chus!
“Their work should continue and the Rebbetzin should continue to see beautiful peiros. She should be well and continue to oversee the beis ha’k’neses and continue to expand and to serve klal Yisrael.”
Rabbi Welcher then offered a brachah to everyone who participates in showing appreciation that we should have the brachah that comes to those who support Torah and closeness to Hashem.
Next, Rabbi Avraham Dovid Garber, rav of Yeshiva Kesser Torah, shared that he didn’t appreciate how much is involved in running the Yeshiva and the m’laveh malkah. He expressed tremendous thanks to the Rosh Yeshiva and the Rebbetzin for all they did and for all that she continues to do, keeping the Yeshiva going with all the minyanim and events. He then shared a list of thank yous to people who helped with the m’laveh malkah and who help on an ongoing basis with the shul. He thanked Michael Poulad, the dinner chairman, Jennifer Jaffe, who created the flyers and the dinner journal, Chani Katz, the secretary, Roberta Ackerman who helped with calls for the dinner, and Michael Septimus and Michael Poulad for the musical entertainment.
Following this, there was a short video clip from Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, Rabbi Emeritus of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills. He noted how much he loved the nigunim that Rabbi Rosenblatt composed, and that he recently learned that Rav Aharon Kotler had two students who sang for him, and they were Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and Rabbi Elyakim Rosenblatt. He said that Rebbetzin Trani should continue to be a source of inspiration.
Then, Rabbi Gedalia Meyer, former talmid of Yeshiva Kesser Torah and a rav in Eretz Yisrael, shared his heartfelt thanks to the Rebbetzin and the Yeshiva. “How can we honor someone who shaped so much of our lives? She’s been there in times of joy and times of sadness. She’s a source of stability and a necessary and essential guide. It is an honor to say this. From the beginning, when I met the Rosenblatts 40 years ago, I knew that they would have a prominent place in my life. We, the talmidim, needed a place to call home and guidance for living a frum life in New York. In the early years of the Yeshiva, the Rebbetzin had to be everything. She was a surrogate mom to some of us when we needed guidance. Finally, she was a friend and remains a friend, always around. She is someone we know is thinking about us. The Rebbetzin is the essence of the Jewish woman. She is daughter, wife, grandmother, sage, psychologist, and the shoulder to cry on. She’s all that and a bit more. She sets us on the path. I am eternally grateful to her. She should continue to shine light and comfort on your community. On behalf of so many, from the bottom of my heart, I am honored to thank you for all you have done.”
After this, Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, CEO of Chazaq and rav of the Charm Circle Shul, shared his gratitude to the Rebbetzin and to Yeshiva Kesser Torah. He acknowledged that, with his crazy schedule, Kesser Torah has enabled him to always find a minyan. It is an amazing mekom Torah and mekom t’filah. “Rabbi Garber continues in the ways of Rabbi Rosenblatt.” Rabbi Meirov said that, as Jews, it’s all about appreciation. The Yeshiva does amazing work and it needs our support. We shouldn’t take it for granted. He stated, “They’re the Nachshon of our community, making sure we have minyanim. He shared that Rabbi Rosenblatt is spiritually still here.
Following this, Rabbi Garber spoke. He shared a d’var Torah. Why did the Egyptians, who were chasing after the Jews, merit that Hashem buried them? Rabbeinu Bachya teaches that they did a good deed by accompanying Yaakov to be buried, so midah k’neged midah they merited burial. This deed was done some 130 years before the Splitting of the Sea, so most of that generation was gone. We see the amazing reward for hakaras ha’tov. He shared that we all want to recognize the Rebbetzin and the Rosh Yeshiva and all they’ve done to influence so many people all over the world, and that influence continues.
For the daily upkeep of the shul, Rabbi Garber said that he speaks to Rebbetzin Rosenblatt constantly, and she has tremendous insights and is very actively involved. The Yeshiva has been successful in reviving all of the minyanim after COVID with even more people attending. “We owe a huge amount of hakaras ha’tov to the Rebbetzin for all she has done. Hashem should bless her and her family with good health, and she should continue to be marbitz Torah. Thank you to the entire Rosenblatt family.”
Next, Moshe Rosenblatt, son of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Rosenblatt, spoke about his mother. She is a shining example of doing the will of her husband and encouraging him to learn and to encourage others to learn and to shteig.
He thanked Rabbi Garber for stepping in and continuing the legacy of his father, and he thanked Chani Katz for all she does for the Yeshiva.
He pointed out that a way to heal the neshamah is to say “Y’hei sh’mei rabbah” with all of one’s strength. “Think of all the minyanim every day and the amount of Y’hei sh’mei rabbahs that are recited. It should be a z’chus for all of us who support the Yeshiva and for my father and my mother.” He related that the m’siras nefesh of his parents has caused Yeshiva Kesser Torah to become such a mekom Torah. The Rosenblatt home is open to all. His mother always has a listening ear. “She’s always there for people. My parents’ home is the epitome of what a Jewish home should be.” He concluded that this should be an inspiration to us to selflessly give to others.
After this, there was a short video tribute to Reb Hillel Newerstein z”l, who was the baal k’riah and baal t’kiah of the Yeshiva for over 30 years and he was a talmid of Rabbi Rosenblatt. Rabbi Avrohom Kahn of Center for Return spoke about Hillel Newerstein’s dedication to Yeshiva Kesser Torah and his meticulous leining every week for so many years and his meticulous blowing of the shofar. He had started to catalogue and organize the Yeshiva Kesser Torah library, as he loved s’farim so much and he loved learning Torah so much. The library was officially dedicated in his memory at the m’laveh malkah and a plaque was presented to his wife Chaya Newerstein, which will be hung in the library.
Rabbi Garber read a letter that Hillel Newerstein wrote after Rabbi Rosenblatt was niftar. He wrote that Rabbi Rosenblatt and Rebbetzin Rosenblatt have thousands of nonbiological children, and he lives on in his students.
Following this, a grandson of the Rebbetzin, Shragi Rothberg, shared a d’var Torah and he spoke about his grandparents.
Then there was a memorial tribute to Moshe Borowski z”l, a talmid of Rabbi Rosenblatt. Ephraim Jaffe, also a talmid of the Yeshiva, spoke about how Moshe was larger than life and such a unique, tremendously insightful individual, giving to klal Yisrael. “He lit a spark with everybody.”
The evening ended with the grand rikud, which brought back happy memories of former m’laveh malkahs. The men danced around and around to the beautiful Rosh Yeshiva’s melodies, played by Michael Septimus and Michael Poulad and sung by Moshe Rosenblatt.
It was a magnificent celebration of appreciation and achdus. Hashem should continue to bless the Rebbetzin and the Rosenblatt family and the legacy of Rabbi Rosenblatt and Yeshiva Kesser Torah!
By Susie Garber