Greenfield Proposes Renaming 50th Street in Honor of Rav Weissmandl zt”l for Heroic Efforts During WWII


rav-michoel-ber-weismandlBrooklyn, NY – Councilman David G. Greenfield is proposing that a portion of 50th Street in Boro Park be renamed in honor and memory of Rav Chaim Michoel Dov Weissmandl zt”l in recognition of his extraordinary life and many important contributions to society, including his heroic efforts as a resistance fighter that led to the saving of hundreds of thousands of Jews during World War II. Councilman Greenfield and community leader Alfred Schonberger, who is a disciple of Rabbi Weissmandl, proposed this street renaming at resident Ari Fixler’s suggestion in a letter this week to Community Board 12 in hopes of rallying the entire community behind this effort to ensure that future generations know of Rabbi Weissmandl’s selfless and heroic actions. It would be especially appropriate to rename a street in Boro Park in his honor, given the large population of Holocaust survivors and their descendants who call this area home today.

In their letter to the community board, Councilman Greenfield and Mr. Schonberger noted that Rabbi Weissmandl “was an incredible individual who dedicated several years of his life to saving Slovakian Jews by creating a ‘working group’ to convince German and Slovakian authorities to delay the mass deportation of Jews for two years. He also appealed to world leaders including Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Pope Pius XII for help and alerted them to the Nazi’s actions across Europe. In addition to his courageous actions on the international stage, Rabbi Weissmandl also left an indelible mark on communities throughout New York, including Boro Park, Brooklyn. Following his arrival in the United States, Rabbi Weissmandl reestablished the Nitra Yeshiva in 1946, first in New Jersey and then in Mount Kisco. In the time since, Nitra shuls have been established in many other communities, including two in Boro Park, one in Williamsburg and one in Monsey.”

Rabbi Weissmandl carried out his inspiring plan to save thousands of Jews from certain death in part by bribing diplomats to assist him smuggle letters or telegrams to political and religious world leaders. Through high-level ransom negotiations with German officials, the transportation of Slovak Jews was eventually temporarily halted. In 1944, Rabbi Weissmandl and his family were placed on a train to Auschwitz, but he was able to escape from the moving train by breaking through a lock. He eventually remarried and settled in America, where he helped reestablish the Nitra Yeshiva in Somerville, New Jersey with his brother-in-law, the Nitra Ruv Rabbi Sholom Moshe Ungar zt”l. Sadly, his health continued to deteriorate and he passed away on November 29, 1957 at the age of 54.

“There is no question that Rabbi Weissmandl was an incredible person, a great scholar and a leader for thousands of Jews throughout the world, including here in Boro Park,” wrote Councilman Greenfield and Mr. Schonberger in their letter. “Renaming the stretch of 50th Street between 14th Avenue and 15th Avenue, which is the location of a Nitra shul, would be a fitting tribute to this great man and would help ensure that his legacy lives on in our community for generations to come.”

Councilman Greenfield previously led an initiative to have a portion of 13th Avenue in Boro Park renamed “Raoul Wallenberg Way” in honor of his efforts during World War II to save as many as 100,000 Hungarian Jews from the Nazis. As a result of this tribute, the name Raoul Wallenberg will grace 13th Avenue for years to come and will help educate future generations about his place in history. With that in mind, Councilman Greenfield and Mr. Schonberger would like to bestow the same honor on Rabbi Weissmandl.

“This is a great way to come together as a community to recognize and honor the incredible sacrifice of Rabbi Weissmandl on behalf of thousands of fellow Jews during World War II. It is important that we always reflect on our history and teach our community’s children about heroes like Rabbi Weissmandl so that these important lessons are not lost to time. I look forward to moving this proposal through the City Council so that Rabbi Weissmandl’s name can be displayed along 50th Street for generations to come,” said Councilman Greenfield.

{Gavriel Newscenter}


  1. Nice gesture…but Rabbi Weissmandel ztl couldn’t care less…he is in Gan Eden enjoying the fruits of his labor. It is us who should remember the koach and effort he put into saving lives…so go ahead and name the street..people will still call it by the street number. Tzadik of a man…please put in the same effort …we are still in golus and need to be rescued!

  2. Why is it a kovod to have a street named after you? Isn’t it better to name a shul, school hospital, gmach, sefer or any dvar mitzvah? What is so great about naming a street after a frum yid? For a Goy, I could understand, because all they want is for the name to be used over and over so naming a street, or a car or a cereal box after them serves that purpose. Why would a frum yid think it’s a zchus??