By: Rivka Bennun  | 

Rabbi Moshe Kahn, Long-Time Rebbe at Stern College for Women, Passes Away at 71

Rabbi Moshe Kahn, a long-time Judaic Studies faculty member at Stern College for Women (SCW) who taught Gemara and Halacha to thousands of women over forty years of teaching, passed away on Wednesday. He was 71. 

Rabbi Kahn’s funeral was held Thursday at Gutterman and Musicant Jewish Funeral Directors in Hackensack, NJ. He was buried at the Cedar Park Cemetery in Paramus. 

Born on Feb. 16, 1951, Rabbi Kahn attended Yeshiva of Central Queens for high school, and then Yeshiva College (YC) from 1968–1972. He studied under Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik for many years, receiving semicha at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) in 1975 and Yadin Yadin in 1979. He was also a close student of Rabbi Yerucham Gorelick, who served as a rosh yeshiva at RIETS for 40 years. 

Rabbi Kahn was recruited to teach in YU by Rabbi Moshe Besdin, the founding director of the James Striar School of General Jewish Studies (JSS), and subsequently taught Gemara and Halacha in JSS for 11 years. 

In 1983, Rabbi Kahn joined the Judaic Studies faculty at SCW, and for nearly 40 years, he taught Advanced and Intermediate Talmud to undergraduate students, primarily teaching Nashim and Nezikin. He also taught several Halacha courses at SCW, including “Hilchot Shabbat,” “Hilchot Berachot” and “Women and Jewish Law.” 

“For all intents and purposes, Rav Kahn was the Stern College rosh yeshiva,” Associate Dean of Torah Studies Shoshana Schechter told The Commentator. “He could’ve been a YU rosh yeshiva … but he wanted to teach women. Probably every woman who learned Gemara in America in Orthodox circles learned with Rav Kahn.” 

Schechter added that he was also a “pioneer in women’s Halacha learning,” and that “if he taught thousands of women Gemara, he taught tens of thousands of women Halacha.” 

When the Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Study (GPATS) was founded in 2000, Rabbi Kahn was hired to teach Gemara for morning seder. Currently, GPATS contains two morning seder tracks, one for Gemara and one for Tanach. Within the Gemara track, Rabbi Kahn taught one shiur, while Rabbi David Nachbar continues to teach the other. 

“Learning and working with Rav Kahn in Stern and GPATS has been one of the greatest privileges of my life,” GPATS Director and Judaic Studies faculty member Nechama Price told The Commentator. 

In addition to his work in both the undergraduate and graduate programs at YU, Rabbi Kahn taught at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education for over thirty years, beginning in 1980. He was a core faculty member of the Scholar’s Circle, a three-year program for post-collegiate advanced Talmud and Halacha study, and taught at Drisha until 2013. 

“[Rabbi Kahn’s] teaching of Torah, primarily [but] not only to women, was one out of a commitment and love of Torah, in a belief that Torah, in study and practice, affords one an opportunity to live a meaningful religious life,” Drisha Founder and Dean Rabbi David Silber said in a eulogy over video. “His goal for his students was to provide them with the tools to be lifelong learners, with a deep engagement with Torah study.”

Additionally, Rabbi Kahn was a licensed psychoanalyst and psychotherapist. He held his license from the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis and had a private practice in his hometown of Teaneck, NJ. 

Rabbi Kahn was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, and from then on taught all his courses from his home via Zoom. He continued teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses until late October, when, due to worsening health, he had to stop teaching. 

“Thank you Rav Kahn, for creating a space for us to learn and creating a world where Talmud Torah for women is accessible and acceptable,” Price wrote in a eulogy. “The next generation of women will not have the absolute privilege that we have had, to be in your classroom, they will learn from your students and your students’ students and your Torah will live on forever. Thank you Rebbe.”

Rabbi Kahn is survived by his wife Chana, three children and multiple grandchildren.

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Photo Caption: Rabbi Moshe Kahn at the GPATS graduation ceremony in May

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University