Rabbi Yehuda (Yiddel) Dickstein z”l

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It is with great sadness that Matzav.com reports the passing of Rabbi Yehuda (Yiddel) Dickstein z”l. He was 94 years old.

R’ Yehuda was niftar in Atlanta, Georgia, on 25 Tishrei. He had been living there with his son-in-law and daughter, R’ Binyomin and Dena Friedman.

R’ Yehudah, a son of R’ Koppel Zalman Dickstein, was born in Brisk, Poland, in the early 1920s. He attended cheder with Rav Refoel Soloveitchik.

As a child, he displayed extreme devotion to Torah and his family saw to it that he was able to continue his learning even though his siblings went to work at young ages.

By age 12, he was learning at the yeshiva in Pruzhin. It was there that he celebrated his bar mitzvah. At seudah shlishis, the rosh yeshiva announced, “Mazel tov, Yiddel Brisker, who just became bar mitzvah.” His father spent that Shabbos in the yeshiva with him and gave him a watch. That was the entire bar mitzvah.

From Pruzhin the next step for aspiring talmidei chachomim was to move on to Baranovitch, led by Rav Elchonon Wasserman Hy”d. Sometime after Shavuos in 1938, R’ Yehuda decided that it was time to move on to the Mirrer Yeshiva. This was unusual, because he was too young for the Mir, as he was only 16 years old. Nonetheless, he wanted to be a part of the famed yeshiva. He convinced two chaveirim to join him. They hitched rides in farmers’ wagons and, upon arriving in Mir, presented themselves to Rav Leizer Yudel Finkel, the rosh yeshiva. Rav Leizer Yudel gave them a farher and accepted them into the yeshiva.

R’ Yehuda would later explain that he didn’t feel that the rosh yeshiva was very impressed with his Torah, but the clouds of war were gathering and he felt that the safest place for a bochur was inside the bais medrash.

After those three were accepted, no new bochurim joined the yeshiva. For the next ten years, R’ Yehuda started off in Mir, then went to Slabodka, then Kobe, Japan, and finally Shanghai, China. R’ Yehuda remained the youngest bochur in the Mir.

In the yeshiva, he joined the chaburah of Rav Aharon Kreiser zt”l, with whom he developed a lifelong bond. Rav Kreiser and his chaburah engaged in vigorous debates with Rav Shmuel Berenbaum and his chaburah. R’ Yehuda became the designated go-between to deliver challenges and responses across the bais medrash between the two groups.

R’ Yehuda can be seen in the famous Mirrer Yeshiva photo, a few rows behind the bimah (8-14, his glasses glinting in the flash).

On the seventh of Av, near the end of the war, R’ Yehuda was sick and in bed in his third-story apartment building, when an Allied bomber erroneously bombed the structure, totally demolishing it. When R’ Yehuda came to, he was still in his bed but in the basement of the building, under tons of rubble. A man appeared and told him to follow him. He followed the man out of the building to safety. He was completely unharmed, with the exception of his glasses, which had gotten lost.

After that, R’ Yehuda was know in the Mir as “Zayin Av,” a day he celebrated annually with a seudas hodaah.

R’ Yehuda’s entire family – his grandparents, sibilings, aunts, uncles, and cousins – were killed in the churban of Europe, leaving him an orphan with no family to return to after the war.

After the war, R’ Yehuda emigrated to America with the yeshiva. He taught for the Mir in Brooklyn, and it was there that Rav Avrohom Kalmanowitz zt”l introduced him to his wife, Chava Beer, a graduate of the Bais Yaakov in Williamsburg.

After spending some years teaching and working for shuls in Maulden, Massachusetts, and Washington DC, the Dicksteins settled in Baltimore, Maryland, where they raised their family.

Ten years ago, they moved to Atlanta, Georgia. In Atlanta, R’ Yehuda became popular with the many baalei teshuvah in his son-in-law’s shul who went to him regularly to learn Torah and experience a connection to a lost world. Whenever anyone came to visit, they always found him engrossed in a sefer.

R’ Yehuda was predeceased by his oldest child, Rochel Weissman a”h. He is survived by his children, Dena Friedman of Atlanta, Georgia; Gittel Cweiber of Flatbush; Heshy Dickstein of Frederick, Maryland; Faygie Dasheff of Kensington, Brooklyn; Chaya Lovett of Far Rockaway, NY; Mendel Dickstein of Atlanta, Georgia; and Rivka Lipshutz of Atlanta, Georgia; along with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The levaya was held on Sunday at Congregation Ariel in Dunwoody, Georgia, followed by kevurah at Crest Lawn Memorial Park in Atlanta.

The family is sitting shivah at the Friedman home, located at 2090 Westover Plantation in Dunwoody. Shacharis is at 7:45 a.m. Minchah/Maariv are at 6:50 p.m.

Yehi zichro boruch.

{CB Frommer-Matzav.com Newscenter}

2 COMMENTS

  1. Rav Yehuda was an adom gadol. he was sharp and with it basically up to the end. rav and rebitzen binyamon hosted Rav Yehuda and his wife, chava yenta, for the last ten years giving the elderly couple the apartment adjacent to their home on westover, and devoting the past ten years to their careful care, while keeping their dignity intact. Zaide was a great man, and we will try to perpetuate his legacy. this article, of course, does not do him justice, but it lets Yidden know that we lost a citadel of Torah. yehi zichro boruch

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