Monsey Memories: When Rav Bresslauer Was Chosen as Rav of Beis Tefillah

Monsey Memories: When Rav Bresslauer Was Chosen as Rav of Beis Tefillah

Yitzy Fried

In the last two installments of this column, we traced the origins of Congregation Bais Tefillah and the construction of the new building for the shul, which continues to stand to this day.

In our final installment on the history of this legendary Shul, we revisit the installation of Rav Shlomo Mordechai Breslauer, who stood at the helm of the kehillah between 1976 and his passing in 2019. For this, we revisit the Shul’s journal, which—published in honor of an anniversary dinner—featuring the following letter to the members, dated July 25, 1976.

“The committee to select a Rabbi has proposed, and the board of trustees has unanimously approved the candidacy of Rabbi S. M. Breslauer as Rav and spiritual leader of our kehillah. The committee has consulted with Horav Yaakov Kamenecki on this matter, and he has recommended this candidacy and informed the committee of his full endorsement and his enthusiastic support for this selection…

“Rabbi Breslauer will perform for our kehilla the usual functions of a spiritual leader, and his full and steadfast devotion to the task should inspire our membership to ever greater strides within our kehilla. He will of course, daven with us regularly, schedule permitting, and continue to expand his droshos and shiurim. He has also agreed to help establish the minhogim, and to involve himself on behalf of our kehilla in communal affairs such as Chevra Kaddisha, kashrus, youth activities, etc.… In the interim period, it is Rabbi Breslauer’s wish that certain minhagim pertaining to kevod harav not be practiced."

The journal continues: “The committee that recommended Rav Breslauer to be our Rav chose well. Since his election, the Rav has used every occasion to dispel our doubts… He well understands the pressures and influence from the media, the workplace, the surroundings, and he always offers practical advice from the Torah viewpoint on ways to respond, whether in his Shabbos and Yom Tov droshos, his essays in the Shul bulletin or with his personal frequent encounters with many members.

“He puts much effort, preparation, and research into his many shiurim and droshos as well as into paskening she’eilos. His speaking itinerary is remarkable. In addition to his Monday and Thursday weekday shiurim, there are two for each Shabbos, plus a speech on Shabbos mevorchim and at a bar mitzvah.

The activities enumerated are in addition to his regular work as a mechanech par excellence in the Yeshiva of Spring Valley now for almost 40 years! All this began sixteen years ago with his selection as a Rav of our kehillah.”

Rav Breslauer would go on to serve for many more decades as the marah d’asrah of the kehillah, and was known as one of Monsey’s preeminent rabbonim until his passing in 2019.  

(Below is a picture of the ksav hachtarah, accepting Rabbi Breslauer as the Rav). 

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