Rabbi Yisroel Gordon, 92, OBM




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    Rabbi Yisroel Gordon, 92, OBM

    We are deeply saddened to report on the passing of Rabbi Yisroel Gordon, OBM, an elder chossid and a senior Shliach. He passed away on Sunday, 14 Shevat, 5783, at the age of 92 • Full Story

    We are deeply saddened to report on the passing of Rabbi Yisroel Gordon, OBM, an elder chossid and a senior Shliach. He passed away on Sunday, 14 Shevat, 5783.

    He was 92 years old.

    Yisroel Gordon was born in the Chassidic Balurussian town of Dokshitz, in 1930, to Rabbi Yochanan and Zeesa Gordon, where His father was the town shochet, a position that had been in the family for generations.

    The youngest of the four surviving Gordon children, the honor of sandek was given to the town’s chassidic rabbi, who was later murdered by the Nazis, Rabbi Leib Sheinin.

    When Yisroel was yet a baby, at the urging of the Frierdiker Rebbe, Yochanan traveled to America, where he worked to earn enough money to bring his family to the new world.

    When Yisroel finally reunited with his father as a three-year-old it took some time for him to learn to recognize and love the stranger he was to call “Papa.”

    Growing up in 1930s Brooklyn, he was among the only boys to be raised in the uncompromising Chassidic manner, including a European-style “zero” haircut, something even his classmates who were the children of Chassidic rebbes did not sport.

    Walking to the Shul with his father, he learned about the Rebbe, who lived in Poland, and developed a love for the Rebbe and his family members.

    After the Nazi invasion of Poland, American Chassidim toiled tirelessly to bring him to American safety. Young Yisroel, who was not yet bar mitzvah, was part of the effort, making phone calls on Shabbat, when the adults were forbidden to use the phone.

    As soon as the Frierdiker Rebbe arrived in America, he founded a yeshiva, in which Yisroel’s older brother, Sholom, was enrolled. And as soon as a junior high division was founded, Yisroel followed suit.

    By the age of 15, he was a part and parcel of life in the Chabad court and was called to read the Megillah for the Frierdiker Rebbe. He came home exhausted and sweating from the effort. Later that day, the Rebbe’s son-in-law, the future Seventh Rebbe, congratulated him on his effort and told him how much his father-in-law had enjoyed it.

    In the early 1950’s Yisroel was sent on several summer trips to isolated Jewish communities, where he brought Jewish literature, inspiration, and a connection to Jewish resources. On one trip, to the deep south, he almost got thrown off a bus for mistakenly sitting in the back, which was reserved for “colored” people.

    A lover of Jewish music and cantorial art, he served as a cantor in many communities, including in St. Louis and Pittsburgh.

    It was while he was living in Pittsburgh that the Rebbe told him to join Rabbi Herschel Fogelman in Worcester, MA, where he became a Judaic studies teacher and principal in the local Chabad day school and cantor at the Shaarei Torah synagogue.

    Blessed with a keen sense for understanding and connecting with people, he forged personal bonds with students and congregants, which he and they treasured for life. Jolly and jovial, he always had a ready quip or kind word, for everyone from custodians to fellow administrators to students.

    This continued when he relocated to Morristown, N.J., in the early 1980s to serve as administrator at the Rabbinical College of America, including the Yeshiva Summer Program, which introduced generations of young men to the rigors and joys of yeshivah lifestyle.

    For many, a most memorable moment of the summer was when Gordon would teach the students to sing Shir Hageulah, a Chassidic song written by the sixth Rebbe and set to music by students in the Chabad yeshivah in exiled in Shanghai, China.

    Possessing a gift for vivid descriptions and mimicry, he would regale audiences with his depictions of scenes of his childhood, including visits by legendary Chassidim such as R’ Itche Der Masmid and Mordechai Cheifetz.

    Equally comfortable in his English and Yiddish, he formed a bridge to a bygone world and would lovingly paint mental images of the people, places and interactions he had experienced in his life.

    A lifelong Torah reader trained by his father, he knew the entire Torah by heart and would gamely allow people to test him by starting any verse and allowing him to pick up from there, a feat he always managed.

    He is survived by his wife Ellen Gordon and their children, Rabbi Yossy Gordon; Mrs. Zeesy Posner; Mrs. Rishe Deitsch; Mrs. Rivkah L. Groner and Mrs. Etty Gurevitch.

    The levaya will take place today, Sunday, and will be passing by 770 Eastern Parkway at approximately 12:00pm and go from there to the Ohel.

    The Gordon children will be sitting shiva at the Deitsch home, 667 Crown Street, with visitors from 10:30 AM to 12:00 Noon, 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM.

    Davening will take place at the Gordon home, 719 Crown Street, with Shachris at 9:15 AM and Mincha and Maariv at 4:47 and 5:08 PM.

    To arrange a visit with Mrs. Ellen Gordon, please call (718) 974-6230.

    Baruch Dayan Haemes


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