Rav Avrohom Chaim Levin to Address Telshe Asifa for Yahrtzeit of Rav Mottel Katz zt”l

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rav-avrohom-chaim-levin-1Tomorrow is the yahrtzeit of the Telzer rosh yeshiva, Rav Chaim Mordechai (Mottel) Katz zt”l, rosh yeshiva of Telshe Yeshiva of Cleveland and founder of Telshe Yeshiva in Chicago.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Telshe Yeshiva in Chicago, a special program will be held tonight at the yeshiva in memory of Rav Katz.

This evening, at 9 p.m., Rav Avrohom Chaim Levin, rosh yeshiva of Telshe Yeshiva-Chicago, will deliver a shiur daas. Maariv will follow at 9:30 p.m. At that point, Tehillim will be said for a refuah sheleimah for Rav Chaim Stein, rosh yeshiva of Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland.

Tomorrow is the 46th yahrtzeit of Rav Katz, who was born in 1894 in Shadova, Lithunania. As a young man, he studied in the yeshiva in Shadova, under the tutelage of the town’s rov and rosh yeshiva, Rav Yosef Leib Bloch. In 1910, he went to learn at the Knesses Beis Yitzchak yeshiva in Slabodka for a year, following which, in 1911, he returned to learn under Rav Bloch, who had been appointed as rov and rosh yeshiva in Telz.

In 1914, Rav Katz went to the Volozhin Yeshiva for two years where he received semichah from Rav Refael Shapiro, son-in-law of the Netziv. In 1916 he learned under Rav Shlomo Polachek, the renowned Maitziter Illuy. In 1918 he returned to Telz, where he married Rav Bloch’s daughter, Perel Leah.

In 1920, Rav Katz assisted his father-in-law in the founding of a mechinah which would prepare younger talmidim for study in a yeshiva. In 1922, a kollel was founded in Telz and Rav Katz was appointed to head it.

In 1930, Rav Katz’s father, wife, third oldest child (Shmuel, aged six) and father-in-law passed away. The following year he married Chaya Kravitz, a niece of Rav Bloch’s.

In 1934, Rav Katz was one of the founders of the Zeirei Agudas Yisroel in Lithuania and served as the head of the Va’ad Hapoel. Together with his brother in law, Rav Eliyahu Meir Bloch, he also served as one of the editors of the Agudah newspaper in Lithuania, “Dos Yiddishe Lebben.”

He participated in the first Knessiah Gedolah of Agudas Yisroel in 1923 and at the third Knessiah Gedolah in 1937 he was appointed a member of the Va’ad Hapoel Ha’olami.

In 1940, Rav Katz and Rav Eliyahu Meir Bloch managed to travel out of Soviet occupied Lithuania and make their way to the United States, in the hope of re-establishing the Telshe Yeshiva and bringing over its faculty and talmidim. Both Rav Katz and Rav Bloch were unable to bring their wives and children, the fate of whom remained unknown to them until 1944.

In October 1942, Rav Katz and Rav Bloch re-established the Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland, Ohio. Together, in 1943 they established The Hebrew Academy of Cleveland.

Towards the end of the war, Rav Katz discovered that his wife and 10 children had been killed by Nazi forces ym”sh in Telshe in 1941. Rav Bloch’s family suffered a similar fate.

In 1946, Rav Katz married Esther Mindle Mandel. In 1947, Rav Katz and Rav Bloch established the Yavneh school for girls in Cleveland under the framework of the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland.

In 1954, Rav Eliyahu Meir Bloch was niftar and Rav Katz became the rosh yeshiva of Telshe.

In addition to running the yeshiva, Rav Katz remained very communally active, both locally, nationally and internationally.

Rav Katz served as a member on the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of the Agudas Yisroel. Together with Rav Aharon Kotler, he undertook to ensure the financial needs of the Chinuch Atzmai were met, encouraging the talmidim of the yeshiva to raise funds for Chinuch Atzmai during bein hazemanim. In 1957 the yeshiva moved from downtown Cleveland to its present-day location in Wickliffe, Ohio, on the outskirts of Cleveland.

In winter of 1958, Rav Katz was hospitalized for a serious heart attack. Despite his health, he continued to actively run the yeshiva and remained active in the wider community.

In 1960, he established Telshe Chicago, a branch of the yeshiva in Chicago, Illinois.

On Tuesday morning, January 1 1963, a fire broke out in one of the three dormitories at the yeshiva. Two students died in the fire and local authorities closed the remaining two dormitories as a safety measure. Rav Katz guided the yeshiva through the difficult period, again, rebuilding. That year he participated at the Knessiah Gedolah of the Agudas Yisroel in Yerushalayim, where he spoke on numerous occasions.

On November 17, 1964, Rav Katz suffered a massive heart attack and was niftar.

His son, Rav Yaakov Zev (Velvel) Katz founded and leads the Cedar-Green Community Kollel in Beachwood Ohio, officially named Kollel Yad Chaim Mordechai, after his father.

Rav Mottel, despite the great differences in American perspective, successfully bridged any gaps with his talmidim, and succeeded in educating and inspiring them. Under his leadership, the Telshe Yeshiva grew to its largest. He was a master educator and communal activist who was exacting in his attention to detail. He used to say: “To a big man there are no such things as small things.”

Yehi zichro boruch.

{Yossi Schneider-Matzav.com Newscenter}

15 COMMENTS

  1. I have fond memories of R’ Motel, ZTL. I was in Telshe during his tenure as Rosh HaYeshiva. He was not only a great leader but a very kind person. And he had a sense of humor.

    I am reminded of an encounter I had.

    There was a fruit tree near his house on Nutwood Lane. I was passing by with a friend when he deciced to climb the tree and get some fruit.

    I guess R’ Motel must have seen that from his window. Fearing something would happen, he rushed out to shoo him down. But he did so with a smile on his face and a humerous comment. There was no anger in his voice. Only understanding and care for our safety while making certain via his humopr that we understood that – eventhough we had violated some rules – he was not going to discipline us.

  2. Amazing! Considering that Volozin closed down in 1892, it must have been quite difficult for R’ Muttel to attend Volozin in 1914.

  3. I got to telz a few weeks before my Bar Mitzva the Elul zman before Rav Motel zt”l was nifter. I was the second youngest youngest bochur in the Mechina & the only one who’s father was not a staff member.Whenever Rav Motel saw me wether leaving the Yeshiva Bais Hamedrash before MIncha when the Rebitzen brought him by car ,or in the dinning room, he would stop me and call me over by name(there were close to 400 bochurim in the Yeshiva at that time).He would ask me if I was happy with my roommates & if I had enough food. not once did he ask me how I was learning. He just acted like a father which he did with all the bochurim. YHEI ZICHRO BORUCH

  4. Let's all show the proper Kovod Hatorah by heading our Roshei HaYeshiva's call, and go to the Dinner - If you have any questions, please call 773-484-9841

    To Our Dear ,???????
    As you are well aware, the Yeshiva’s annual Dinner on
    December 12, ?’ ??? will be the culmination of the Yovel
    celebration of our Yeshiva. In the span of a half century, many
    ??????? spent time in the ??? ???? , learning and growing
    into authentic ??? ???? who bring us much pride.
    At this auspicious occasion, it would give us a great deal of
    ??? to share the ???? with our ??????? . If it is at all possible
    for you, we ask that you make the effort to join us and add
    prestige to this unique celebration.
    Hopefully you will be able to derive much ????? , as we surely
    will, and reaffi rm your connection with ????? and .??????
    We are looking forward to greeting you at the dinner.
    ?????,
    Rabbi Chaim D. Keller Rabbi Avrohom C. Levin

  5. Let's all show the proper Kovod Hatorah by heading our Roshei HaYeshiva's call, and go to the Dinner - If you have any questions, please call 773-484-9841 .

    To Our Dear ,???????
    As you are well aware, the Yeshiva’s annual Dinner on
    December 12, ?’ ??? will be the culmination of the Yovel
    celebration of our Yeshiva. In the span of a half century, many
    ??????? spent time in the ??? ???? , learning and growing
    into authentic ??? ???? who bring us much pride.
    At this auspicious occasion, it would give us a great deal of
    ??? to share the ???? with our ??????? . If it is at all possible
    for you, we ask that you make the effort to join us and add
    prestige to this unique celebration.
    Hopefully you will be able to derive much ????? , as we surely
    will, and reaffi rm your connection with ????? and .??????
    We are looking forward to greeting you at the dinner.
    ?????,
    Rabbi Chaim D. Keller Rabbi Avrohom C. Levin

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