The Info List - Aharon Kotler

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Aharon Kotler
Aharon Kotler
(1891–1962) was an Orthodox Jewish rabbi and a prominent leader of Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
in Lithuania, and later the United States, where he founded Beth Medrash Govoha
Beth Medrash Govoha
in Lakewood Township, New Jersey.


1 Early life 2 World War II and move to the United States 3 Death 4 Works 5 Notable students 6 References 7 External links

Early life[edit] Rav Kotler was born in Śvisłač, Russian Empire
Russian Empire
(now Belarus) in 1891. He was orphaned at the age of 10 and adopted by his uncle, Rabbi Yitzchak Pinnes, a Dayan in Minsk. He studied in the Slabodka yeshiva in Lithuania
under the "Alter (elder) of Slabodka", Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, and Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein. After learning there, he joined his father-in-law, Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer, to run the yeshiva of Slutsk.[1] World War II and move to the United States[edit] After World War I, the yeshivah moved from Slutsk
to Kletsk
in Belarus. With the outbreak of World War II, Rav Kotler and the yeshivah relocated to Vilna, then the major refuge of most yeshivoth from the occupied areas. Reportedly Rav Kotler encouraged the yeshiva to stay in Vilna despite the approaching Nazis. Most of his students were murdered by the Nazis. Some did not listen to him and escaped to China. He was brought to America in 1941 by the Vaad Hatzalah rescue organization, and guided it during the Holocaust.[1] At first, he settled in New York City's Upper West Side, and in 1949, he moved to the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.[2] In 1943, Rav Kotler founded Beth Medrash Govoha
Beth Medrash Govoha
in Lakewood Township, New Jersey, with 15 students.[1] By the time of Rav Kotler's death in 1962, the yeshiva had grown to 250 students.[1] He was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Shneur Kotler, as rosh yeshiva. As of 2011, Beth Medrash Govoha
Beth Medrash Govoha
is run by his grandson, Rabbi Malkiel Kotler, and three of his grandsons-in-law, Rabbis Yerucham Olshin, Yisroel Neuman, and Dovid Schustal. By 2007 the yeshiva had grown into the largest institution of its kind in America with 5,000 college and advanced-level students, while the surrounding Lakewood community supports a network of 50 other yeshivas and over 100 synagogues for an Orthodox population estimated at 40,000.[3] A committed anti-Zionist,[4] Rav Kotler also helped establish Chinuch Atzmai, the independent religious school system in Israel, and was the chairman of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah
Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah
of Agudath Israel. He chaired the Rabbinical administration board of Torah Umesorah, and was on the presidium of the Agudas HaRabbonim of the U.S. and Canada.[1] Upon the death of his father-in-law, Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer, he inherited his father-in-law's position of rosh yeshiva of Etz Chaim Yeshiva
of Jerusalem. In an unusual arrangement, he held this position while continuing to live in America, and visiting Jerusalem occasionally. Today, his grandson, Rabbi Zevulun Schwartzman, heads a kollel located at Etz Chaim Yeshiva.[citation needed] Death[edit] Rav Kotler died at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City on November 29, 1962.[1] A funeral service for Rav Kotler at the Congregation Sons of Israel
Kalwarier on Manhattan's Lower East Side drew 25,000 mourners, with 200 officers from the New York City
New York City
Police Department assigned to the event, which was described by the congregation's president as the largest gathering of mourners in his experience. The 700 seats in the sanctuary were reserved for notables. In an atmosphere described as being reminiscent of Yom Kippur, eulogies for Rav Kotler were delivered by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein
Moshe Feinstein
and by Satmar Hasidic leader Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, among others. Following the funeral, Rav Kotler's body was transported to Idlewild Airport to be flown to Israel
accompanied by two dozen of his students.[5] After arriving in Israel, the plane carrying Rav Kotler's coffin was greeted by a crowd of 5,000 at the airport. Jerusalem
traffic was brought to a standstill by crowds of 30,000 people who lined the path of the procession transporting Rav Kotler's body from the airport to Etz Chaim Yeshiva, where thousands of mourners from throughout Israel
came to offer their final respects before his burial[6] on Har HaMenuchot. Works[edit]

Shu"t Mishnas R' Aharon Mishnas Rabbi Aharon on various tractates of the Talmud

Notable students[edit] Rabbi Kotler's students include:

Rabbi Yitzchak Abadi Rabbi Elya Svei Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky Rabbi Moshe Hirsch Rabbi Moshe Hillel Hirsch Rabbi Yisroel Taplin Rabbi Moshe Heinemann Rabbi Meir Stern Rabbi Yechiel Perr Rabbi Shlomo Miller Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach


^ a b c d e f Staff. "Rabbi Aaron Kotler Dead at 71; Jersey Rabbinical School Dean", The New York Times, November 30, 1962. Accessed August 29, 2011. ^ Ami. No. 65. Apr 4, 2012. p. 84. ^ Fahim, Kareem. "As Orthodox Population Grows, So Do Tensions", The New York Times, December 10, 2007. Accessed August 29, 2011. "Many Orthodox Jews have been drawn to Lakewood by the prestige of the town's yeshiva, Beth Medrash Govoha, one of the largest rabbinical colleges in the world. The yeshiva was founded in 1943 by a Polish-born rabbi, Aaron Kotler. In 1962, when Rabbi Kotler died, the school had 250 students. It now has about 5,000. The wider yeshiva community includes more than a hundred temples, and about 50 schools." ^ Shaul Magid (2013). American Post-Judaism: Identity and Renewal in a Postethnic Society. Indiana University Press. p. 169. ISBN 0-253-00802-6. R. Elhanon Wasserman, who is featured prominently in the ArtScroll series, was one of the most vehement anti-Zionists in the wartime period. R. Aaron Kotler, the founder of the Lakewood Yeshiva
and architect of Yeshiva
Orthodoxy in America, was also a committed anti-Zionist.  ^ Staff. "25,000 MOURNERS AT KOTLER'S RITES; Crowd Pays Tribute to Rabbi at East Side Synagogue", The New York Times, December 3, 1962. Accessed August 29, 2011. ^ Staff. "30,000 March in Funeral Of Rabbi Kotler in Israel", The New York Times, December 5, 1962. Accessed August 29, 2011.

External links[edit]

Rav Aharon Kotler
Aharon Kotler

v t e

Rabbis of Beth Medrash Govoha

Roshei yeshiva Malkiel Kotler Yerucham Olshin Dovid Schustal Yisroel Neuman

Mashgiach ruchani Matisyohu Salomon

Past roshei yeshiva Aharon Kotler Shneur Kotler Past mashgiach ruchani Nosson Meir Wachtfogel

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 45778559 LCCN: n86035245 ISNI: 0000 0000 6694 6465 GND: 1067878