By: Jacob Walker  | 

Thousands Pay Last Tribute to Rabbi Moses Soloveitchik (Vol. 6, Issue 7)

A mass gathering of American Jewry estimated at over 4,000 assembled in the Nathan Lamport Auditorium last Sunday to pay their final respects to the late Rabbi Moses Soloveitchik. The hall was packed to capacity by 11 a.m. and many hundreds of mourners braved the cold to witness the procession to and from the Yeshiva building.

Rabbi Soloveitchik, senior Rosh Hayeshiva, passed away on Friday, January 31, at 10 a.m. at Mount Sinai Hospital. Seriously ill for only a short time, it was not known until Thursday night that his condition was critical. The efforts of specialists and physicians of the hospital were of no avail and on Friday morning the heart of the sixty-two year old gaon ceased functioning. 

News of his death soon spread throughout the country and on the following Sunday morning distinguished leaders of communal and academic life arrived in the city.

The pallbearers, students of the deceased, carried the coffin from his home to the synagogue which he frequented. The body was then borne to the Yeshiva to be placed in the room where he had taught. For the duration of the service it was laid at the foot of the speaker’s platform. 

The first speaker, Rabbi M. Rosen, representing the Agudath Horabbonim, likened the great sage to the “high priest of Israel, who, in former days, atoned for the sins of the nation as a whole.” Rabbi I. Dushowitz, of the Rabbinical Organization of Greater New York, stated, in a very dramatic speech, that the “Yeshiva students are left as orphans with both their father and mother, Dr. Revel and Rabbi Soloveitchik, gone.” 

Other speakers included Rabbi A. I. Zalmanovitz, who represented the various faculties of Yeshiva; Rabbi M. Feinstein, Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshivath Tifereth Jerusalem; Rabbi A. Dachowitz of Brooklyn; Rabbi Samuel K. Mirsky representing the Teachers’ Institute, and Rabbi Samuel Pardes of Chicago.

By far the most touching words of the afternoon came from the lips of Rabbi Soloveitchik’s oldest son, Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, chief rabbi of Boston. He portrayed to the weeping audience how he and his father had continually exchanged profound and intricate matters of Jewish law. 

Cantor Schechter rendered the concluding prayer, after which the earthly remains of the deceased were removed from the building to be taken to their final resting place. 

A descendant of a family that gained international reputation as heads of the Volozhin Yeshiva, Rabbi Soloveitchik came to America at the request of Yeshiva leaders, to assume the position of Rosh Hayeshiva left vacant by the death of Rabbi Polatchek in 1929. 

His grandfather was the famous Reb Yoshe Ber and his father the renowned Reb Chaim Brisker. While still young, Rabbi Soloveitchik was noted for his wide range of knowledge and his deep, penetrating understanding of the complex “sugyoth” of the Talmud. 

He is survived by two married daughters and three sons, Rabbi Joseph Beer, Aaron, of the class of ‘40, and Samuel Soloveitchik, a chemical engineer now doing research work at Ohio State University.