Monsey Memories: Rav Alter Yechezkel Horowitz

Monsey Memories: Rav Alter Yechezkel Horowitz

Rav Horowitz served as an esteemed rov in the Monsey community before he went to serve as the Viener Dayan in Boro Park. A ga’on in Torah and yiras Shomayim, he became beloved and revered by the entire kehillah and to the Monsey community in general. 

His thirtieth yohrtzeit took place earlier this year. In honor of this occasion, we take a glimpse into his life. 


Rav Yechezkel was born in the town of Bistric, Romania, to his father Haga’on Rav Elisha Horowitz, in the year 1929. Rav Elisha was an ardent follower of the Rav Yechezkel Paneth, the Deezher Rebbe, known as the Knesses Yechezkel, and the Rebbe exerted himself to journey to Bistric especially for the bris—mere months before his passing. 

The boy grew up in a home steeped in Torah and yiras Shomayim, and tragically lost his mother when he was a young boy of twelve. 

Upon the liberation in 1945, he was broken in body but not in spirit. All he desired was to return to the Gemara. 

Lakewood and Beis Medrash Elyon 

He arrived in America in 1949 with the intention of enrolling in a certain yeshiva. But a chance encounter with Rav Aharon Kotler, zt”l, in a train station changed the course of his life. He became enamored with Rav Aharon, and instantly decided to enter the nascent Lakewood Yeshiva. These feelings were mutual; Rav Aharon loved the brilliant young man. Hago’on Rav Yosef Rosenbloom testified that he never saw Rav Aharon draw any of his talmidim as closely as he did Rav Yechezkel. For his part, Rav Yechezkel spent every possible moment in the presence of his great rebbe—even spending the Pesach sedorim with him. 

Rav Shneur, zt”l, once remarked about him, “Der Tatte considered him the mushlam of the yeshiva, and had a weakness towards him due to his tremendous kishronos.” 

For his entire life, he would repeat stories and anecdotes from his beloved Rebbe, culled from the years spent in close proximity to him. 

In 1951, he heard about the elite chaburah that had been formed in Monsey, where bachurim sat and learned with incredible diligence. It was called Beis Medrash Elyon, and he sought to be a part of this group. Here, he was drawn close to Rav Reuven Grozovsky who appreciated his hasmodoh and his erudition. He also learned with him and helped him prepare the shiur. 

Leading His People 

He married Rebbetzin Miriam Yocheved Halberstam, a daughter of Rebbe Duvid Halberstam of Czarnów, a direct descendant of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, an incredible personality and tremendous masmid from Williamsburg of yore. 

In the beginning, he did not want to support himself from the rabbonus—despite the impressive semichos that he had earned—and he went to work. By no means did he abandon his love for Torah during this time; he spent many hours learning every day. 

But then his rebbetzin fell very ill, and the doctors gave up on her life. He promised that if she were to emerge from danger, he would dedicate himself entirely to learning and harbotzas Torah. Miraculously, the Rebbetzin made a full recovery (she lived another 51 years until the age of 88), and Rav Yechezkel returned to full-time learning and delivering shiurim. 

The family moved to Monsey, where, in addition to his founding the Sanzer Kloiz, and delivering many shiurim to balebatim there, he was a major force in the fledgling Monsey community. He was among the founders of the mosdos Yeshiva Beis Dovid and Beis Rochel girls’ school which endure and thrive to this day. 

His entire essence was Torah, and he would learn with tremendous hasmodoh, abhorring bittul zeman. The good fortune of others brought him tremendous joy, and when he would farher yeshiva students, he always ensured that they should walk away with a good feeling of ahavas haTorah and success in learning. 

In 1981, he fell ill, and with the acquiescence of the Admorim of Skulen and Ribnitz, the name Alter was added. His illness returned in 1989, and from that time he was unwell. Although he was unable to lead them as before, the Viener kehillah nevertheless continued to exhibit the same reverence and respect towards their great rov until his passing on 16 Shevat, 1994, thirty years ago. 


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