On Sunday, October 30, 2022, at the Young Israel of Hewlett where Rabbi Simcha Hopkovitz serves as rabbi, the Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim gathered for its Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan conference. The conference was dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Shmuel Borenstein, HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Ben HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Noach, ZT’L, who served with honor and distinction for nearly a half a century as a Rosh Mesivta at MTA YUHSB. The keynote address was given by Rabbi Elly Merenstein, Rosh Mesivta, Shaarei Pruzdor, Valley Stream, New York. Rabbi Borenstein’s sons and son-in-law – Rabbi Mendy Borenstein and Rabbi Yitzchok Borenstein and Rabbi Moish Schmerler, executive director/Menahel of the Rabbinical of America – spoke on behalf of the family.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, remarked, “Noach is described as an ish tzadik, a righteous man, within the context of discussing his descendants. Commentators ask about the positioning of describing Noach as a righteous man close to the mention of his future generations. One answer offered is that Noach understood that he was tasked with the great responsibility of founding mankind in the era after the Flood. He was tasked with the awesome responsibility of establishing a new world order molded and shaped by his actions. Noach’s job was to anchor the world in truth, honesty, and righteousness. Noach felt that these important attributes start with him.
“Like Noach, a parent and a leader must act with honesty and integrity. A parent and a leader must influence their children and community that they lead with the message: Do as I say and as I do. Rabbi Borenstein, ZT’L, lived a life of honesty and righteousness. He was a loving rebbe, husband and father who led by example. He influenced his students, children, family, and friends to emulate, to do as he did and as he spoke. All too often, people today do not practice what they preach. Their actions contradict the message they are conveying. Rabbi Bornstein succeeded because he was consistent, honest, and loving. That is why he was successful as an educator and cultivated generations of great students who are making this world a better place.”
Rabbi Moish Schmerler remarked, “I will never forget the first time my father-in-law asked me to pick up about 100 pairs of tzitzis for him. I did not understand why he needed so many pairs until I discovered the secret. Rabbi Borenstein, at his own expense, purchased tzitzis and brought them to yeshiva to distribute to any of his students who was not wearing a pair. His tactfully approached a student, give him a pair of tzitzis and said to him, ‘I am sure you mistakenly forget yours at home. Here, please put it on.’ Rabbi Borenstein always worked in the positive, bringing out the best in every student and individual he met. His agenda was to raise his student’s observance by showing how happy a person should be to learn and do mitzvos. If it meant playing basketball to inspire his students, he did so. Rabbi Borenstein was a humble man who sought no accolades. About forty years ago, when his father Rabbi Yitzchok Noach Borenstein, ZT’L, a Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivas Yitzchok Elchanan (RIETS) for approximately 50 years, passed away, Rabbi Dr. Norman Lam, ZT’L, the president of Yeshiva University offered Rabbi Shmuel Borenstein a position at RIETS as Rosh Yeshiva. Rabbi Shmuel Borenstein turned down the promotion explaining, ‘I have found an important responsibility as a rebbe at the high school and that is to motivate, uplift and to make Torah and mitzvos exciting to high school students. Although, it would be a big honor to serve as a Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS, I feel my responsibility is to remain at MTA.’”
Rabbi Schmerler continued, “my father-in-law would have appreciated the tireless efforts of Rabbi Elly Merenstein, Rosh Mesivta, Shaarei Pruzdor, Valley Stream, New York. Rabbi Merenstein’s goal is to mold his students into proud Jews. One of his students explained to me how impressed they were with their rebbe. He said, ‘would you believe Rabbi Merenstein took us on a speed boat to say Tashlich? Would you believe that Rabbi Merenstein had us learn how to make tzitzis and showed us how much fun it is?’ In today’s day and age, it so important to make Yiddishkeit come alive in real terms to our children. Too many of them feel alienated from Torah. Rabbi Merenstein and his team works to educate and inculcate a love and appreciation for Torah and mitzvos. This is something my father-in-law would appreciate, and I wish he would have met Rabbi Merenstein years ago and… wow, what a meeting it would have been.”
Rabbi Merenstein explained, “my philosophy is that the current state of education helps our top learners excel and helps those children who need help excel. However, the children in the middle who need extra love and support are many times forgotten. If they do not receive sufficient attention, they can fall off the derech. That is why I dedicated my career in chinuch (education) to focusing on the in-between student, bringing out the skills and talents of children who many times are overlooked. I feel that by focusing on this group, we will cultivate a love for Torah and Yiddishkeit.”
Rabbi Mendy Borenstein reminisced how his father, “made Yiddishkeit come alive. My father around the clock was the consummate rebbe, rav, and father. He was exceedingly patient and was always available to learn and teach others. He made special time for anyone who wanted to learn with him. But the most important lesson he taught us was Hakoras HaTov (gratitude). My father’s final mitzvah was tekiyas shofar. I remember how he appreciated the privilege to hear the shofar for the final time, in the hospital. As ill as he was, he smiled and did not complain. Instead, he felt fortunate and appreciated the person who blew for him the shofar, what sadly was for his last time. When his doctor, a former student of his, informed him of the devastating news that they have taken all medical steps, but sadly they cannot do more, he mustered up with great difficulty the energy to thank him. This was my father’s last utterance before he returned to his holy neshama to Hashem. My father was a treasure of a person, a man who appreciated life and the opportunity to learn and teach Torah and to share the beauty of Yiddishkeit with family, friends, and students. His positive impact continues on with his family, friends, and his students. May his memory be a blessing to all.”
Also participating in the Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan Conference were Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America; Rabbi Gil Student, director, Halacha Commission, Rabbinical Alliance of America; and Rabbi Tzvi Mandel, Khal Bnay Yisroel, Monsey, New York.
Pictures Below Videos
Names in Pictures
(1) A group picture of some of the rabbis in attendance at the Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan Conference and Seudah in honor and memory of Rabbi Shmuel Borenstein, ZT’L
(2) Left to Right, Rabbi Moish Schmerler, executive director/Menahel, Rabbinical Alliance of America, and son in law of Rabbi Shmuel Borenstein, ZT’L; Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, Rabbinical Alliance of America, and Rabbi Elly Merenstein, Rosh Mesivta, Shaarei Pruzdor, Valley Stream, New York
(3) From Left to Right, Rabbi Yehuda Blank, vice-president, Professional Development and External Affairs, Rabbinical Alliance of America; Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America; Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, Rabbinical Alliance of America; and Rabbi Gil Student, director, Halacha Commission, Rabbinical Alliance of America
(4) Left to right, Rabbi Tzvi Mandel, Khal B’nai Yisroel, Monsey, Nee York; Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice—president, Rabbinical Alliance of America; and Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America
(5) Rabbi Tzvi Mandel, Khal Bnay Yisroel, Monsey, New York
(6) Rabbi Elly Merenstein, Rosh Mesivta, Shaarei Pruzdor, Valley Stream, Long Island
(7) Rabbi Yitzchok Noach Borenstein
(8) Rabbi Yehuda Blank, vice-president, Professional Development and External Affairs, Rabbinical Alliance of America
(9) Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, Rabbinical Alliance of America
(10) Rabbi Mendy Borenstein
(11) Rabbi Moish Schmerler, executive director/Menahel, Rabbinical Alliance of America; and Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, Rabbinical Alliance of America.