Audio: The Unforgettable Rabbi David B. Hollander zt”l, On His Third Yahrtzeit, Today


rabbi-david-hollander[Powerful audio files below.] Today, 24 Teves, is the third yahrtzeit of Rabbi David B. Hollander. Rabbi Hollander was the spiritual leader of the Hebrew Alliance-F.R.E.E. of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. He also served as rov at the Mount Eden Synagogue in the Bronx and was the former president of the Rabbinical Council of America. At age 96, he was the oldest full-time pulpit rabbi in America.

Born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1913, Rabbi Hollander immigrated with his family to New York when he was nine years old. During his teenage years, he attended Brooklyn Law School and Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon.

The youthful Rabbi Hollander took the helm of the Mount Eden Center in the Bronx. A gifted orator, he found the pulpit to be the perfect forum from which to lead the battle against assimilation and Jewish apologetics. His Shabbos speeches, delivered with a fiery passion, reflected his unwavering commitment to traditional Torah Judaism.

Rabbi Hollander’s outspoken nature did not always win him friends. Throughout his long career, Rabbi Hollander would remain an outspoken defender of daas Torah at great personal sacrifice. As Rabbi Faivel Rimler, rabbi of the New Brighton Jewish Center, noted, “It would pain him when others would distance themselves from him due to his ideology. In the end, however, he always remained true to his beliefs.”

His fight, Rabbi Hollander often noted, was an ideological battle against deception, not one against people. “He saw no classes within Judaism,” Mrs. Fay Hollander related shortly before his levaya. “To my husband there was only one Torah, and every Jew had a place in it.”

Rabbi Hollander’s speeches and personality appealed to the broader rabbinic community. In 1954 he was elected president of the  Rabbinical Council of America. The position, which lasted two years, became a springboard for his pioneering work in aid of Soviet Jewry. It was to this end that he led a delegation of rabbis to Moscow in the summer of 1956. At the time, Jews in the Soviet Union still hid under the shadow of the Kremlin and the legacy of Stalin’s bitterly anti-Semitic policies. It was a testament to Rabbi Hollander’s tenacity that a rabbinic delegation was allowed to visit.

Upon his return to America, he continued to devote himself to Russian Jewry and galvanized other leaders into action as well.

In the 1980s, the Bronx Jewish community began to dwindle and give way to changing demographics. Rabbi Hollander, then 70, became the rabbi of the Hebrew Alliance in Brighton Beach. Tapping into Brighton Beach’s growing Russian immigrant population, he partnered with the Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe (known by the acronym F.R.E.E.) to initiate several education and social projects. The childless rabbi took a special interest in family celebrations, making special effort to attend circumcisions and bar mitzvahs. Even in his later years, Rabbi Hollander made the six-block trek to shul on a regular basis. When climbing to the second-floor sanctuary became too difficult for him, the congregation moved the davening to the main floor so that their beloved rabbi could lead.

Rabbi David Okunov, associate director of F.R.E.E. recalls a particular episode in Rabbi Hollander’s move from the Bronx. When the Mount Eden Synagogue was being dismantled, Rabbi Hollander transported the plaques commemorating deceased members to his new community. “These aren’t just plaques,” he stated, “they are neshamos. These are people who need to be remembered!”

Rabbi Hollander was married to his wife of 61 years, Fay, who passed away last year. They did not have children. Well over 1,000 people attended the levaya. He was buried in Yerushalayim.

Yehi zichro boruch.

Click below to listen to three clips of powerful words of Torah hashkafah from Rabbi Hollander:

Audio 1, on debating with non-Orthodox clergy, from approx. fifteen years ago:

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Audio 2, on recognizing non-Orthodox clergy, from approx. twenty years ago:

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Audio 3, on the matzav in Eretz Yisroel, from approx. fourteen years ago:

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{Shmiel Newscenter/Free of Brighton}


  1. Rb Hollander visited South Africa often and gave the community tremendous inspiration.He also assisted in major fund raising efforts for Torah Chinuch. Thank you for the facility of being able to listen to his amazing Torah messages again.

  2. It should be noted that he was the brother-in-law of Rabbi Moshe Sherer – they were married to the daughters of Rabbi Fortman Rav of Congregation Knesseth Israel in Far Rockaway during the 1940s

  3. Rabbi Hollander was a master orator. At one time he taught homiletics at MTJ. Also, he had attended law school in his younger years, so perhaps that also contributed to his great ability to present the case for Orthodox Torah Judaism.

  4. The Rabbi also understood and had excellent relations with very ordinary people –I remember fondly growing up on Walton AVE in the Bronx -in a walk -in apt –right next door was the Rabbi and Mrs Hollander maybe late 1940’s -early 1950.s —-my father rest in piece was not very religious and was kind of a tough guy being a WW1 vet and a fighter after the war –he wasnt religious but very protective of his Jewish heritage —I remember often the Rabbi and my Dad going places together -my dad acting as the Rabbis protector –I remember fondly the good Rabbi looking for my Dad to complete a Minyan in the Rabbis apt –the Rabbi knew exactly where my dad was hiding in the back bedroom –he would go on the street and tap the window saying “its only for a few minutes ,wake up ” the Rabbi full well knew my father was hiding –he never chastised him nor lectured him but he always got my dad for the Minyan —The good Rabbi never succeeded in making my Dad more religious nor did he really try as he well knew that there was room for my father in the religion just the way he was –as to my father -he absolutely loved the Rabbi as a man and you just couldnt talk in a negative vein about the Rabbi in front of him!!!!!!