By David Feder
I grew up in Toronto. When my wife and I moved out to Long Island 25 years ago, we were looking for a yeshiva for our son.
As soon as I heard about Yeshivas Toras Chaim of South Shore and that Rabbi Binyamin Kamenetzky was the rosh yeshiva, I knew right away that this would be our choice. Our families knew each other from the early years when Rav Yaakov, zt’l, was in Toronto. The first time I met with Rav Binyamin, he immediately greeted me with a big smile and embrace. He remembered my grandfather, a’h, and fondly recalled his years in Toronto. But this was not the reason my wife and I chose the yeshiva.
We enrolled our son in the kindergarten because we wanted him to grow in a Torah environment which was designed and overseen by Rabbi Kamenetzky, where limud haTorah was paramount, along with derech eretz and ahavas Yisrael. Limudei kodesh take precedence, but students are prepared and encouraged to advance to high school and college. While the yeshiva does not march in the annual Celebrate Israel Parade, they do not dissuade the students from participating. Rabbi Kamenetzky did not look down at anyone. Every talmid in his yeshiva was special with unlimited potential. I know. All four of our sons went through the yeshiva from pre-1A through eighth-grade graduation. That’s 23 consecutive years with sons in the yeshiva. We were zocheh to have Rabbi Kamenetzky at our many Siddur parties, Chumash parties, and hanachas tefillin ceremonies in the yeshiva. He even surprised us 15 years ago when early in the morning he attended and spoke at our youngest son’s bris. Throughout the years, he showed vigor and excitement at every event, always showering the talmidim (and parents) with love and simcha.
Just as the Torah describes how Moshe Rabbeinu did not slow down or weaken as he aged, so, too, Rabbi Kamenetzky was strong and vibrant into his nineties. He was a true tzaddik, respected and revered. On Sunday, after the levayah, my son Avi turned to me and said, “Thank you for sending me to South Shore Yeshiva!” What he meant was: thank you for letting me be a talmid of Rav Binyamin Kamenetzky, zt’l.
Klal Yisrael has suffered a great loss.