This past Thursday morning, we had the opportunity to hear about Rabbi Yehudah Kelemer zt”l. With this week commemorating Rabbi Kelemer’s first yahrzeit, it was an opportune time to learn about him. The program began with words from Rabbi Hecht, Middle School principal. Rabbi Hecht spoke about his personal connection to Rabbi Kelemer. Rabbi Hecht discussed Rabbi Kelemer’s quality of humility. Rabbi Kelemer was always there for everyone and always made all people feel more confident than they had before they spoke to him. Rabbi Hecht explained how once, Rabbi Kelemer came to visit his son in the hospital. He came and said that he was in the hospital visiting someone else, and he just wanted him to know that he was thinking of him.
The next speaker was Rabbi Mordechai Harris. Rabbi Harris told the students about the time that his mother was sitting shiv’ah in Florida. It was already 6:30 in the evening and most of the people had already come for the day. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, and it was Rabbi Kelemer. The story would have been amazing if he took time out of his busy day to fly down to Florida. What made the story even more amazing was that Rabbi Kelemer didn’t fly, he drove 22 hours each way to Florida. Rabbi Harris also spoke about the fact that Rabbi Kelemer was an incredible talmid chacham. One night, Rabbi Kelemer was giving a class to Rabbi Harris and some of his friends. One of his friends asked Rabbi Kelemer where he was, because it seemed very noisy. Rabbi Kelemer explained that he was driving up to Canada. Rabbi Harris said that, typically, when rebbeim, moros, and teachers are giving classes, they have notes and everything in front of them. Rabbi Kelemer taught while driving to Canada, with nothing in front of him. Rabbi Harris told the students that if they could take one message from Rabbi Kelemer’s life, it would be to make every moment count, as Rabbi Kelemer did.
The next speaker was Rabbi Joshua Goller, an alumnus of HANC and the current Rabbi of the Young Israel of West Hempstead. Rabbi Goller told a fascinating story that really captured Rabbi Kelemer. He said that Rabbi Kelemer was once giving a class during the week, between Minchah and Maariv. He was talking about Shabbos and that you cannot do things on Shabbos that cause pain. One person in the back of the shul raised his hand and said that he feels one should not be able to learn on Shabbos because, for some people, it is stressful and causes them pain. The people in shul were shocked. Rabbi Kelemer simply told the person, “What an amazing question you asked, and in fact a talmid chacham had asked that question,” and he wanted to show him after Maariv inside the sefer.
The program concluded with Rabbi Dworetsky reminiscing about his first tea in West Hempstead. It was for the new families, and Rabbi Kelemer was speaking to them. He was there together with Rabbi Goller, and he told everyone that if they ever needed anything, even at three in the morning, they should feel very comfortable to call Rabbi Goller. Rabbi Dworetsky concluded by announcing to everyone that the recently started Mishnah Yomis shiur in HANC would be named in memory of Rabbi Kelemer as the Rabbi Kelemer Mishnah Yomis Program at HANC Middle School.