Rav Aharon Moshe Schechter zt”l, 95, led Midwood’s Yeshiva and Mesivta Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin for a yovel, building the institution into an enrollment of 1,800, becoming one of New York’s most prized Torah citadels in a neighborhood that radiates its k’dushah. Rav Schechter was niftar on August 24.

Born in 1928 in East New York to Yosef and Fruma Rochel, Rav Aharon was brought up in a generation when children mostly attended public schools. However, Rav Aharon and his brothers attended Yeshiva Toras Chaim, where Rav Yitzchak Schmidman left a lifelong impression, memorialized by a commemoration near Rav Aharon’s makom kavua. Rav Aharon was a talmid muvhak of Rav Yitzchak Hutner, Rosh HaYeshivah at Yeshiva Chaim Berlin, where he attended high school in the company of Rav Yaakov Perlow zt”l and Rav Yonasan David shlita. Following his marriage to Shoshana (Hentcha Rosa) née Leichtung, Rav Aharon and Rav Yonason began to deliver shiurim.

When Rav Hutner made aliyah to establish Yeshiva Pachad Yitzchak in Yerushalayim, Rav Hutner instructed the Brooklyn-born rav to take over the mantle leading both the Yeshiva and its Kollel Gur Aryeh at Coney Island Avenue, between Avenues L and M, where he continued to deliver a daily shiur incorporating an adaption of the Slabodka style brought over by his mentor, including a Friday lecture on the Maharal. At Yeshiva, Rav Aharon differed from his rebbi by davening nearly every t’filah with his talmidim, compared to only on Shabbos.

Rav Aharon always encouraged talmidim to push for higher purpose and lived by his teachings, never wasting a word in conversation. Moreover, the Rosh HaYeshivah ensured that his thoughts were never misquoted, henceforth maintaining their intent. Rav Aharon enlightened many thousands of students spanning generations, showing never-ending care, even during illness, for every talmid, often some 50 years later. Prior, Rav Aharon briefly studied in Lakewood’s Beis Medrash Govoha under Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, the repercussions of communism took a major toll on Russian Jewry. Ashkenazic Jewry in America are descendants from Russia and Poland. Rav Aharon shined as a gadol in the 20th and 21st century; he understood and felt this anguish and always supported organizations that reignited the flame of Yiddishkeit in these lost souls. To Rav Aharon, this mission was personal, as Russian bachurim became his coveted study partners, often treating them as his own offspring as they embarked on marriage. Comparatively, Rav Hutner did not maintain a presence in the beis midrash, nor did he study with his talmidim.

The Yeshiva spends summers at Camp Morris in Woodridge. The outlying community absorbed the Yeshiva’s values, despite Rav Aharon never issuing an edict. As a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudath Israel of America, and a partner in Vaad L’hatzalas Nidchei Yisroel, Rav Aharon genuinely took on responsibility for American Yidden. In 1967, with his rebbi’s blessing, Rav Schechter published Avodas Aharon, a work of 19 chapters, mostly regarding the halachos of the Beis HaMikdash based on the Rambam. In his approbation, Rav Hutner noted that Rav Aharon had the midos of Moshe Rabbeinu in his or haTorah, and of Aharon HaKohen in his or ha’avodah.

The l’vayah included T’hilim by Mesivta rebbi Rav Asher Seigfried, and thoughts from Rav Shlomo Halioua, son-in-law, and Rosh HaYeshivah. Also speaking were Rav Eliyahu Yormark (son-in-law and Rosh Mesivta), Rav Yitzchak Meir Sendrovitz (son-in-law and Rosh Mesivta), Rav Nosson Schechter (son), and grandson Rav Yitzchak Schechter.

Following two years of illness, Rav Schechter passed away. His eishes chayil, Rebbetzin Shoshana a”h, passed away in 2016. K’vurah was held at Beth David Cemetery in Elmont, Long Island. The illustrious couple are survived by sons, Rav Mordechai Zelig, mashgiach ruchani at the Yeshiva, and Rav Nosson, a mohel, daughters Reb. Esther Yormark, Reb. Nechama Halioua, and Reb. Yehudis Senderovitz; and his abundance of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

 Compiled by Shabsie Saphirstein