October 2020 - Rabbi Yosef Godlewsky Yahrtzeit | Keren Hayeled

7 Cheshvan (this year, from nightfall Saturday to nightfall Sunday, October 24-25) is the 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 recollections of him, as told by his son Rabbi Meyer Godlewsky, who is following in his father’s footsteps of dedication to these at-risk and orphan children.

Rabbi Yosef Godlewsky of blessed memory (standing, center) addresses his beloved students.

Rabbi Meyer Godlewsky shlita continues his father’s loving, empathetic concern for our children.

Rabbi Yosef learned Torah in the renowned Yeshivat Rabbi Chaim Berlin under Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner zzt”l. Rabbi Hutner was known for his very deep and intricate Torah discourses. Many students found it quite difficult to get a full grasp of the ideas. Rabbi Yosef was one of the few students who were able to explain the depth of Rabbi Hutner’s Torah classes to the others. For this and other reasons, Rabbi Yosef had a particularly close relationship with the Rosh Yeshiva.

1. Rabbi Yosef in intimate conversation with Rosh Yeshivat Chaim Berlin, Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner ztz”l.

Included here are photos from a bygone era, of Rabbi Yosef’s wedding to Rebbetzin Perl Godlewsky née David (who accompanied R. Yosef as a decades-long exemplary head of Keren Hayeled), which demonstrate with what endearing regard he was held by great rabbis of the time. And just as Rabbi Hutner bridged the Yeshiva and Chasidic worlds through his teachings and close relationships with Gedolim and Rebbes, so did Rabbi Yosef maintain such connections. This is exemplified by the personal demeanor with which the Skolya Rebbe ztz”l pictured here interacts with Rabbi Yosef, the chosson.

2. The chosson Rabbi Yosef receives a bracha from the Skolya Rebbe, Rabbi Dovid Yitzchok Izek Rabinowitz ztz”l.

3. Preparation of the Kesuva

4. Mazal Tov at the chosson’s table.

Please let us know if you recognize other rabbis or guests in any of the above four photographs!

Rabbi Yosef considered the Shema to be one of the most important things to teach a Jewish child. And he constantly spoke to the children about belief in Hashem, and the meaning and intention of the Shema, encouraging them to recite it on all occasions.

In addition, he dedicated himself with great self-sacrifice to their every need, material and spiritual, literally until the end of his life. Even shortly before his passing, he mustered great strength despite his declining situation, to read the Megilla one last time on Purim for his beloved students, as he had done consecutively for so many years!

Rabbi Yosef Godlewsky ztz”l, himself a Torah scholar, selflessly sacrificed to enrichen the lives of Jewishly distant youth.  

In honor of the yahrtzeit on the 7 Cheshvan, please share with us any fond memories or inspiring stories that you have about Rabbi Yosef Godlewsky ztz”l. And since 7 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 who Rabbi Yosef loved so much, and for whom he dedicated his entire life!

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