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Rebbi of My Past, Pillar of My Forever

Mendel Horowitz

I learned many lessons from my rebbi, Rav Shlomo Freifeld ztz”l. I learned there is no such thing as a bad question. I learned that to engage the New World one need not disengage from the old one. I learned that religious fervor is an art. And 25 years after his petirah, I am still learning how to hold on to the present without letting go of the past.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

According to my father, life for me in Sh’or Yoshuv began on Erev Rosh Hashanah, when, still unredeemed, I lay on his shtender throughout Minchah at the coming of 5732. After Yom Tov, my pidyon haben happened in the basement of the “old building.” The deli platters were from a Brooklyn caterer who opened special for the occasion and the lemon meringue pie was my bubby’s, who, until her end, spoke regrettably of the bochurim transporting those pastries upside down so the meringue stuck to the foil packaging. Twenty-six years later I would redeem my own son in the dining room of the “new building,” making me an incidental detail in a matter of trivial pursuit. From the modest yeshivah he founded in 1967 and in the brotherhood that from there evolved, Rav Shlomo Freifeld “revived the spirits of the lowly and the hearts of those contrite.” These words from Yeshayahu appear on his tombstone and in that way I experienced him in life. As a tower of passion and sincerity, Rav Freifeld influenced countless students throughout the ’70s and ’80s, religious from birth and baalei teshuvah alike. Under his leadership, Sh’or Yoshuv became a haven for idealistic young men who found in him their mentor, model, and cornerstone for living.

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