October 2017 – Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yosef Godlewsky ztz”l – Keren Hayeled

Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yosef Godlewsky ztz”l

The 7th day of Cheshvan (this year, from nightfall Thursday to nightfall Friday, October 26-27, 2017) will be the 3rd yahrtzeit of one of the founders of Keren Hayeled, Rabbi Yosef Godlewsky ztz”l. As a tribute to his decades-long contribution to our children, we’d like to share several stories about him, as told by his son Rabbi Meyer Godlewsky, who is following in his father’s footsteps of dedication to Keren Hayeled:

Historic visit of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky shlita to Keren Hayeled upon the invitation of Rabbi Yosef Godlewsky ztz”l

“In Williamsburg, my parents had all types of people at their Shabbos table. One of them was an overly-outspoken young man with no family who did not have the patience to wait through the normal progression of courses and songs of the Shabbos meal. So at the outset, my father gave him the entire meal, and everything else that he asked for, in advance of the other guests! And then, during the actual singing, my father would sing quickly according to this guest’s impatient pace, and had us all make a short dance with him after the meal.

My father would show us in the book of Toldos Ya’akov Yosef that lashon hara, evil speech, repels the Divine Presence, but hospitality is even greater than receiving the Divine Presence. He would emphasize from here that if the improper speech of a forlorn guest might repel the Divine Presence, the very hospitality provided to such a guest has the power to retrieve the Divine Presence to an even greater degree!”

Rabbi Yosef Godlewsky ztz”l was a phenomenal educator, captivating the interest of underprivileged youth and endearing them to Judaism.

“Similarly, after my parents moved to Eretz Yisrael, in addition to devoting all of their energies to Keren Hayeled, they would invite many kinds of people into their home for Shabbos and holidays, including children of the institution and their relatives.

Once before Passover, my parents informed us that we, the family, could not come to them for the holiday because they would be hosting the grandmother and mother of several children from Keren Hayeled whose father died a few years earlier. There were seven guests in all, together with the visiting children, who were hyperactive.

After the Yom Tov, without letting any of our family know, my father called his repairman to fix broken windows and other damage done by the children. We only learned about this many years later at the shiva, when the repairman told this story of his righteousness!”

Rabbi Yosef Godlewsky ztz”l was also an exceptional administrator, selecting the best teachers for “his” children, and working in unison for their best advantage.

“For many years my father spread the teachings of the Chafetz Chaim on lashon hara and also taught classes on it after the daily prayers. During the shiva, a certain Torah scholar related that because of my father, he had been studying together with his wife two laws of Chafetz Chaim every day for twelve years. It happened as follows:

They met one night at the ma’ariv prayer in the Itzkovitz shul in Bnei Brak, notorious for its around-the-clock minyans. My father urged him to learn Chafetz Chaim every day with his wife, and ran to his car in order to give him a copy from his personal stock of the work. The man was so impressed by my father’s sincerity and enthusiasm that he agreed on the spot. It was three o’clock in the morning!”

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In honor of the yahrtzeit on the 7th of Cheshvan, please share with us any fond memories or inspiring stories that you may have about Rabbi Yosef Godlewsky ztz”l.

And since the 7th of Cheshvan also begins the prayer for rain in Israel, v’ten tal u’matar, in which we ask God for the material blessing so desperately needed by the inhabitants of Israel, please commemorate this special day by showering blessing upon the needy children of Keren Hayeled in Israel.