By: Rivka Bennun and Sruli Friedman  | 

Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, Dean Emeritus of RIETS, Passes Away at 94

Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, dean emeritus of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), passed away on Tuesday. He was 94. 

Born in 1929 in the Bronx, where he spent most of his life, Rabbi Charlop graduated from Yeshiva College in 1951, and received semikha from RIETS in 1954. He was appointed Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS in 1971, replacing Rabbi Reuven Aberman, and served as dean for 37 years until he stepped down in 2008, after which he became dean emeritus and special advisor to then-YU President Richard Joel. 

“At the heart of Rav Charlop was Yeshiva University, [its] students, its leadership, its rebbeim,” Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Yaakov Neuberger, who was Rabbi Charlop’s son in law, expressed in his hesped. “He was one of the great stewards of Yeshiva University and he believed with the greatest passion in what Yeshiva University accomplishes.”

“Everything we have today at Yeshiva stands on the shoulders of Rav Charlop’s efforts,” outgoing RIETS Dean Rabbi Menachem Penner told The Commentator.  

In addition to serving as dean of RIETS, Rabbi Charlop taught American history at Yeshiva College, and wrote numerous scholarly essays for publications including the Encyclopedia Judaica. 

“Dedicated to God and to the Jewish people, a scholar of Torah, rabbinic law, and American history, Rabbi Charlop was a role model for rabbinical students, devoting his life to educating future generations of rabbis,” Yeshiva University wrote in a blog post Thursday. “His goal was always to create rabbis who could relate to the broadest range of Jews throughout the country and world. With a passion for Judaism and for life, he embodied the ideals of Yeshiva University.”

Rabbi Charlop also served as rabbi of Young Israel of Mosholu Parkway in the Bronx, a position he accepted after receiving ordination. He was given a lifetime contract from the shul in 1966 and served as rabbi for 54 years; the shul closed in 2015, upon which he moved to Monsey. 

Rabbi Charlop held several other leadership positions in the American Orthodox community, including serving as president of the Council of Young Israel Rabbis, today known as the National Council of Young Israel. Before taking the position of dean, he also taught Talmud at the James Striar School (JSS) and edited Chavrusa, a Torah journal published by YU alumni.

Rabbi Charlop was the son of Rabbi Yechiel Michael Charlop, a longtime prominent rabbi in the Bronx, and grandson of Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Charlap, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem and disciple of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook. His family included a long line of rabbis, who had a tradition that they descended from King David, YU Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter shared in his hesped

Upon stepping down as dean in 2008, Rabbi Charlop received YU’s presidential medallion in recognition of his work for RIETS over his 37 years of service, and was presented with Sefer Zeved Tov, a book of essays on Torah topics written by roshei yeshiva and students in his honor, and Sefer Shefa Yamim, a collection of his own essays published for the occasion.

The levaya took place Wednesday morning in the Glueck Beit Midrash, where several roshei yeshiva eulogized Rabbi Charlop. Another levaya took place Thursday afternoon in Jerusalem, followed by the burial on Har HaZeitim

“As the Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS from 1971 until 2008, Rabbi Charlop raised generations of Jewish leaders and guided rabbis and developed our yeshiva,” President Ari Berman said in his eulogy. 

Rabbi Charlop’s wife, Judith Charlop, passed away in 1999. He is survived by eight children and multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 


Photo Caption: Rabbi Zevulun Charlop at the RIETS Dinner of Tribute in 2008

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University