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Rabbi Feinstein Zt"l and Jack Forgash

Rabbi Feinstein Zt"l and Jack Forgash

My Rebbe, Rav Dovid Feinstein, Zt”l

By Jack Forgash, as told to Michal Rosenberg

Bergenfield Jewish Link Nov. 2020

Rav Dovid Feinstein, was the rosh yeshiva of Mesivta Tiferes Jerusalem on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He was a renowned Torah scholar and halachic authority for Jews around the world. He passed away last week at the age of 91. What follows is personal reflections from one of his many talmidim.

I was a student in MTJ in 1960. After high school my father sent me there to learn because of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. There, I learned Talmud, but I also learned how to deal with people. I met Rav Moshe at my interview and was put into Rav Dovid’s shiur, who was first starting to teach classes in the beis midrash. I was in his shiur for two years.

There were 20 of us, and our interactions were that of a rebbe and talmid, but also like a friendship, with all the chavrutot and learning together.

When I went to college I continued at MTJ in between classes. Sometimes I would drive Rav Moshe home for lunch because I was the only one with a car.

I formed Just One Life in 1988, an organization that supports pregnant women in Israel who are in crisis, such as single mothers, women getting divorced while pregnant or who got pregnant while in the army. There are many halachic questions that come up when dealing with these is sues, and I would call Rav Dovid when I had a question. He became the rabbinical authority for Just One Life, along with Rav Pam.

I would bring photos of the babies and their mothers to show Rav Dovid when I would visit the yeshiva and he would smile and ask questions about the mother’s situation. He would ask me to show the photos to Rebbetzin Malka and would tell me later that she enjoyed seeing them.

Ten years ago, Rav Dovid asked me to join the MTJ board. I asked him, “Rebbe, it’s 50 years later! Why are you asking me now?” He answered me, “You’re family and family should stick together.” So I joined, and sometimes at board meetings, when I would contribute an idea, he would say, “I like that.”

Rav Dovid Feinstein, zt”l

The main lesson I learned from Rav Moshe and Rav Dovid was chesed. The way they would greet everyone at the yeshiva—there was an open door. People came from all walks of life, every type of Jew—and even non-Jews! Rabbis from the OU, Agudah, Young Israel, Torah uMesorah, all came to the yeshiva to ask questions to Rav Moshe and lat er to Rav Dovid. He was always humble, inviting and interested in other people.

A lot of poor Jews would come to collect tzedakah from the students in the beis mid rash, and one day when Rav Moshe was giving shiur a lady came in collecting and was chased out by a bachur. Rav Moshe stopped the shiur, ex cused himself and went out to give the woman tzedakah from his own pocket. Then he went over to the bachur and gave him tzedakah to give her as well.

We used to go across the street to Sam’s Deli for lunch, and Rav Dovid would come in, sit and eat with us. He was my posek, my rebbe and my friend. I looked up to him tremendously.

The Feinstein family, Rav Moshe and Rav Dovid, emu lated the avos in the way they built up Jewish values and the Jewish way of life to where it was before the Holocaust.

Like Avra ham, their chesed was unbelieva ble. Like Yitzchak, they had gevurah. Rav Dovid had the strength to carry on his father’s mis sion and togeth er they carried the world Jewish com munity on their backs. They wer en’t just roshei ye shiva, but roshei klal Yisrael.

And like Yaakov, their To rah was known throughout the world and it uplifted the Jewish poeple after the Hol ocaust and continues to this day. [Artscroll, the household name that disseminates To rah throughout the world, was born in MTJ, with Rav Dovid encouraging his great friend, Artscroll founder Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz, and giving his haskama on many sefarim.]

Rabbi Feinstein, center, with Jack Forgash, left, and his son Elliot Forgash, at Elliot's wedding.

After watching the funeral on Zoom on Sunday, I went to the airport to say goodbye to Rav Dovid: my rebbe, my adviser, my friend. Rabbi Feinstein and Jack Forgash shaking hands. Rabbi Feinstein, center, with Jack Forgash, left, and his son Elliot Forgash, at Elliot's wedding.

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2019 Bergenfield/Teaneck Function
As in years past, the founders and supporters of “Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael” or “Just One Life” will join together for its annual benefit evening in Teaneck during the Nine Days, on Wednesday, August 7. According to founder and American Chairman and Israeli Co-Chairman Jack Forgash, “This time of year marking the churban of both of our precious Batei Mikdash can best be memorialized by supporting an organization that has effectively helped to recoup the loss of Jewish lives. It has been statistically proven that there were more Jewish children born in the State of Israel during its brief 71-year history than in all of its prior 2,000 years of history in the land. We can modestly attest that the work of Just One Life has been an important component in that impressive statistic.” Included in its ever-increasing services to mothers in Israel who are beset with challenges before and after giving birth, Just One Life offers supportive counseling, financial stipends, home visits, referrals to government and private agencies and advocacy. Their headquarters are in the beautifully renovated offices near Rechov King George in the center of Jerusalem. According to new Director Chaya Katzin, who serves as well as the chief social worker and supervisor of the team of social workers, this past year has seen an impressive increase in services offered. Through an expanded program of workshops, clients are provided with multi-session courses in parenting skills, psycho-dynamic approaches to dealing with the past, present and future, mind-body techniques for dealing with stress and anxiety, and identifying behavioral techniques for achieving happiness and comfort. These multi-session workshops are subsidized and often result in creating support groups among the attendees. Interns from both Shaare Zedek Hospital and Hadassah College in conjunction with Hadassah Hospital work alongside the Just One Life social work team. In appreciation of their work, Dr. Uri Chen, of the Hadassah School of Medicine, wrote a letter to Katzin: “There is no doubt that your assistance brought about circumstances that were optimal to helping women and couples during their difficult predicaments and brought about beneficial outcomes.” Upon her retirement last year, Madelaine Gitelman, who served as the director of social work at Just One Life for over 30 years, became chairman of the board, which she now co-chairs with Jack Forgash. Upon her retirement, Gitelman received a congratulatory letter from Ambassador Danny Danon, permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations, who shared: “I would like to extend my appreciation to Madelaine Gitelman in recognition of her incredible leadership of Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael. Bringing Just One Life to Israel brought the issue of raising Jewish children straight to the heart of the Jewish world.” Rabbi Martin Katz, who has served as the executive vice president of Just One Life for close to 30 years, commented upon his recent “awesome” trip to Israel: “I spent many quality hours with Chaya Katzin and her team of social workers. I visited with new mothers and their happy babies. I listened to the testimonies of women who had overcome difficult times and situations with the help of Just One Life. I saw baby triplets born with our assistance as well as Yael, our former client, mother to now 20-year-old quadruplets. On occasion I am asked how it feels to be doing such holy work. My response is that I am simply a messenger. In turn, I would like to thank the generous communities of Teaneck/Bergenfield for being our special partners in this holy work.” The community is invited to attend the evening of tribute to Just One Life to be held on Wednesday, August 7, at 8 p.m., at the home of Rachel and Azi Mandel, 60 Westminster Avenue, Bergenfield. Co-hosting the evening are Sheryl and Aaron Liberman. Organizers include Rayzel and Ron Yaish, Fraidy and Stuart Forgash, Cindy and Elliot Forgash and Carole and Jack Forgash.The speaker for the evening is the internationally renowned inspirational Torah scholar Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson. For more information and to reserve, please call 347-996-7751 or visit www.justonelife.org.   Article originally appeared on The Jewish Link.
Aug 1st 2019