A siyum Mishnayos was recently held to mark the 89th yahrtzeit of Reb Pinchos Aharon Bruder zt”l. Nine generations of descendants gathered on Monday night, August 1, at Essen on Coney Island Hall in Brooklyn, NY, to celebrate nine generations of Yiddishkeit in America. Those in attendance were from diverse walks of life. Among the families in attendance were the Wilhelms, Webermans, Septimuses, Jacobs, Lewittes, Kranzes, Belskys, and other Bruder family relatives. Those not in attendance were able to participate via live hook-up and Skype in locations such as Baltimore, Toronto, Lakewood, Florida and Monsey.
It was a celebration of shmiras haTorah and mitzvos thanks to mesirus nefesh for Yiddishkeit in America at a time when few were able to withstand the nisyonos they were presented with.
Rabbi Pinchos Aharon Weberman delivered divrei zikaron and spoke about the importance of the family staying united through limud haTorah. Reb Yehuda Septimus was mesayeim.
Reb Pinchos Aharon Jacobs was maschil the next cycle of learning using a set of Shas that belonged to Reb Pinchos Aharon Bruder zt”l.
Plans are underway to include additional relatives for an event to commemorate the 90th yahrtzeit, to be marked by a siyum haShas.
A number of descendants of Reb Pinchos Aharon were instrumental in the founding and establishment of Torah mosdos and Yiddishkeit in America, such as Rav Binyomin Wilhelm zt”l, who was married to a granddaughter of Reb Pinchos Aharon. Rav Wilhelm was the founder of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas, which produced bnei Torah responsible for spreading Torah across the United States. Rav Wilhelm was also the cofounder of Bais Yaakov of Williamsburg and founder of Mifal Torah Vodaas, a kiruv organization in Eretz Yisroel serving Sephardic youth.
Mr. Harold Jacobs z”l, a great-grandson of Reb Pinchos Aharon, was president and chairman of the OU and active in the OU for 30 years.
Rav Chaim Yisroel Belsky zt”l, a great-great-grandson of Rav Pinchos Aharon, was the rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and a world-renowned posek.
Reb Pinchos Aharon and Brocha Bruder reached American shores in 1880 in response to a request by the Shinover Rebbe. The Shinover Chevra, a shul on the Lower East Side, had written to their rebbe, Rav Chezkel Shinover, in Europe, asking him to send them a capable, strictly Orthodox shochet.
According to Rabbi Pinchos Aharon Weberman, Reb Bruder’s great-grandson, the Shinover had plans to immigrate to America, because he held that America would be the last of the ten sojourns of the Torah. Since he felt that America would be the greatest makom Torah, he wanted to plant himself and his community there. He therefore wanted to send a shochet there, lehoros lahem makom, to pave the way. The Shinover Rov asked his father, the Divrei Chaim, whom to send. Who could stand up to the great tests that a move to America would entail? They decided on Pinchos Aharon Bruder, who was known not only for his reliable shechitah, but also for his steadfast dedication to Yiddishkeit.
Unaware of the rebbe’s plan, Reb Pinchos Aharon went to the Shinover for Yom Tov. During this visit, the rebbe told him to move to the States. Worried about his children’s future, Reb Pinchos Aharon was hesitant to take on this duty. The Shinover gave him a brachah that his offspring would remain shomrei Torah. After Yom Tov, Reb Pinchos Aharon went straight from the rebbe to Hamburg to take a boat to America. He didn’t want to go home first, because he was afraid that if he would, he would not end up following the rebbe’s directive. His family was living in a Galician town – either Barsha or Ropshitz – near the Hungarian border.
Back at home, his wife, Brocha, was resolutely opposed to the idea and worried what people would say about them moving to the “treife medinah.” She was embarrassed to face her friends in the streets, but the rebbe had said to go; they had no choice. First, Reb Pinchos Aharon moved alone in order to serve as a shochet. After six months, he had enough money to bring over his wife and six children. Tickets on a boat to America cost $12 a person. They came over on a ship called Silesia, which departed from Hamburg on May 9, 1880.
The Shinover Rebbe passed away and never made it to America, but Reb Pinchos Aharon stayed there for the rest of his life.
After settling on the Lower East Side, the Bruders continued their steadfast commitment to Yiddishkeit and Torah. As the Ridbaz famously described, shechitah in America at that time was a political, shaky business. Supervision was weak, and the shochtim were questionable. Amidst the corruption, in walked Reb Pinchos Aharon, a G-d-fearing shochet on shlichus from the Shinover Rebbe. He raised the standards, and gained enemies in the process. But the opposition did not weaken his resoluteness, and he gradually earned a reputation for reliability and sincerity.
Despite his busy work schedule, Reb Pinchos Aharon learned diligently. He was also a popular mohel, but refused payment for his services. In fact, after performing brisos for poor families, he would leave them money.
The Bruders were well-known for their goodwill and chesed activities. Every Thursday, they packed up many boxes of Shabbos food and distributed them to needy families.
Reb Pinchos Aharon worked in shechitah for twenty-five years, while continuing his chesed and helping people in many ways, including advising many who came to him with their problems. After he retired from shechitah, he dedicated himself full time to his greatest passion, learning Torah. He completed the entire Shas seven times in his life, and even on his death bed was “talking in learning.”
Yehi zichro boruch.
1) Rav Binyomin Wilhelm zt”l
2) Reb Pinchos Aharon Bruder zt”l (L) at his children’s 50th anniversary celebration.
3) The matzeivah at the kever of Reb Pinchos Aharon Bruder zt”l.
4) Relatives of the Bruder family meeting each other for the first time.
5) R’ Yehudah Septimus being mesayeim.
6) Relatives of the Bruder family meeting each other for the first time.
7) Reb Pinchos Aharon Bruder zt”l, in August 1907, in Hunter, NY, were he served as a mashgiach for dairy products.
8) Rav Chaim Yisroel Belsky zt”l, great-great-grandson of Reb Pinchos Aharon Bruder zt”l.