On the last night of shiv’ah for Rabbi Elyakim Getzel Rosenblatt zt”l, Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshiva Kesser Torah, community members, alumni of the Yeshiva, and Yeshiva supporters gathered at Congregation Ohel Simcha for a memorial program. Mr. Avraham Kesherim, a good friend of the Yeshiva and of Rabbi Rosenblatt, organized the program. He welcomed everyone. He stated that “Rabbi Rosenblatt was rav of the whole k’hilah. He meant so much to everyone. He was calm, sweet, and caring. He was close to so many people. He accepted everyone into the Yeshiva. It didn’t matter about externals.”
Mr. Kesherim shared a personal story. One year, he had reserved a shul in Kew Gardens Hills for Rosh HaShanah for the Persian people who wanted to daven there. Ten days before Rosh HaShanah, the rabbi of that shul called and told him it was not going to be available. Mr. Kesherim was upset. He spoke to Rabbi Rosenblatt about it and the rav told him,”If you forget and forgive, Hashem will do the same for you.” So, he took Rabbi Rosenblatt’s advice. A week before Yom Kippur, a different location opened up and they were able to daven there. “This was a big lesson I got from Rabbi Rosenblatt, and it’s a lesson for all of us.”
Next, Rabbi Schwartz led T’hilim in memory of Rabbi Rosenblatt and of the Skulener Rebbe, who was also recently niftar.
Rabbi Rafael Zavulunov, rav of Congregation Ohr HaTorah in Kew Gardens Hills and Assistant Director of Chazaq, spoke of Rabbi Rosenblatt’s tremendous love for people. He said a talmid chacham is similar to Shabbos. When you saw Rabbi Rosenblatt’s smile, there was a certain radiance and calmness like the radiance and calmness of Shabbos. “He was a baal n’ginah. He had a beautiful voice. He was a person bursting with ahavas Yisrael.” He learned with Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l and Rav Henoch Leibowitz zt”l, and he absorbed a tremendous amount from both of these great rabbis. “It is a tremendous loss for our neighborhood.” Rabbi Zavulunov taught that when Yaakov left, the glory, splendor, and beauty left with him. The shul will continue and the minyanim will continue to grow. Our job is to show his warmth to others, and that’s the legacy he left to us.
Rabbi Haim Alcabes, a close friend of Rabbi Rosenblatt, shared two thoughts. “We all are suffering very greatly.” Tomer Devorah starts with words that perfectly describe Rabbi Rosenblatt. It is appropriate for a person to emulate his Creator. This is what he did every day of his life. Rav Oelbaum asked a question on this idea from Tomer Devorah. Why doesn’t it say that emulating G-d is a mitzvah? The answer is that the author of Tomer Devorah, Rav Cordovero, is teaching us something completely different. “This is what Adam – the first man – was created for. This is the essence of what a human being is all about. This is what Rabbi Rosenblatt was all about.” The way to emulate Hashem is to give. “He was such a giver. He felt close to all of us.” Being a giver means giving to someone who has a choice to refuse. When Rabbi Rosenblatt gave to anyone, we were all so happy to accept from him. Rabbi Alcabes recited, “‘Hinei mah tov u’mah na’im, sheves achim gam yachad.’ That’s what Rabbi Rosenblatt lived for. His goal was bringing us all together.” He shared, “It falls on us to continue to develop that achdus in the community and beyond, that he devoted his life to.” He succeeded in an amazing way, and our continuing in that way will bring him z’chuyos.
Dr. David Levenson, a neighbor of Rabbi Rosenblatt, shared how he thinks of Rabbi Rosenblatt’s smile, and the way he spoke to you, and the way he acted. The best midah, according to Pirkei Avos, is a leiv tov and that was Rabbi Rosenblatt. “Our community had a tremendous z’chus having him here. No words can describe what he accomplished.”
Following this, many many members of the audience stood up and shared their thoughts and experiences with Rabbi Rosenblatt.
Everyone left uplifted by this beautiful memorial, which can be viewed on TorahAnytime.
By Susie Garber