Rav Nochum Zev (Velvel) Dessler zt”l


rav-nochum-velvel-dessler[Levaya info below.] It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Rav Nochum Zev (Velvel) Dessler zt”l, longtime dean of the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland. Rav Nochum Velvel was a son of the renowned mashgiach of Ponovezh, Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler zt”l, author of the Michtav M’Eliyahu, and was a descendent of the Alter of Kelm and Rav Yisroel Salanter. For almost seventy years, Rav Nochum Velvel played an instrumental role in building and leading Cleveland’s Torah community.

Rav Nochum Velvel was niftar this morning at the age of 89.

Rav Nochum Velvel grew up in England, in the home of his illustrious father and mother, and ultimately learned at the Telshe Yeshiva in Lithuania.

Later, as the winds of war swept across Europe, the Telshe roshei yeshiva, Rav Eliyahu Meir Bloch zt”l and Rav Chaim Mordechai Katz zt”l, arrived in Cleveland, where they reestablished the Telsher yeshiva.

[Interestingly, it was actually Rav Nochum Velvel’s efforts that allowed the rebbetzin of Rav Mordechai Gifter to escape Europe and come to the United States on the very same boat at Rav Bloch and Rav Katz. Rav Gifter, who was engaged at the time, was precluded from going to Europe because of the war. He rav-nochum-velvel-desslerdesperately tried to obtain the necessary papers for his kallah to leave Europe and join him in America. He sent her a visa, but she could not leave Lithuania until the papers were stamped by the American consulate in Kovno. Rebbetzin Gifter traveled to Kovno, but by the time she arrived, the consulate was closed. The American envoy was packing his bags and preparing to leave because of the war. She was crestfallen and did not know what to do. It was then that she met Rav Nochum Velvel, who was a bochur at the time. Rav Nochum Velvel, who spoke English well, as he had lived in England, somehow was able to call the counsel by telephone and, in his well-spoken English, he convinced the counsel that he had to help the girl, despite the fact that he was closing. The counsel told him to send the girl and tell her to knock on the back door of the building and he would stamp the passport. He opened the door and stamped the passport, telling her that this was the last passport stamped in Lithuania. Thus, it was at the very last moment before the gates of Europe closed, thanks to Rav Nochum Velvel’s efforts, that Rebbetzin Gifter had her papers stamped. As mentioned, she left on the same boat as her two uncles, the roshei yeshiva, Rav Bloch and Rav Katz.]

Although a Hebrew school for elementary aged children preceded the arrival of Telshe in Cleveland, it was Rav Nochum Velvel Dessler who turned it into a proper day school. A mesivta was later added for high school youth and the mosad grew exponentially, but it was Rav Nochum Velvel’s selfless efforts for harbotzas haTorah and ensuring chinuch al derech Yisroel saba that made a profound mark on the community. He is credited with the remarkable chinuch available in Cleveland today, a chinuch that has produced generations of ehrliche Yidden, including rabbonim and respected leaders of the community.

The impact of Rav Nochum Velvel and his efforts is immeasurable. He took upon himself the achrayus of spreading the light of Torah in the Midwest, making a kiddush Sheim Shomayim throughout his life, and engaging in chinuch habonim to ensure Klal Yisroel‘s survival and growth.

Rav Nochum Velvel is survived by his devoted wife, Rebbetzin Miriam Dessler, and their children, R’ Reuven Dessler, R’ Simcha Zissel Dessler, R’ Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler; Mrs. Sarika Shiff, wife of Rav Emmanuel Shiff; and Mrs. Malka Rappaport, wife of R’ Dovid Simcha Rappaport.

Rav Nochum Velvel was predeceased by his daughter, Rebbetzin Peshy Brudny a”h, wife of Rav Eliyahu Brudny, R”M at the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn. A little over a year ago, Rav Nochum Velvel’s sister, Rebbetzin Henny Geldzahler a”h, wife of Rav Eliyahu Yehoshua Geldzahler, passed away.

Rav Nochum Velvel leaves behind a large mishpacha, with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, following in his ways and carrying on his legacy of mesirus nefesh for Klal Yisroel.

The levaya will take place tomorrow morning in Cleveland and kevurah will take place in Eretz Yisroel.

Yehi zichro boruch.

Update, 3 p.m. EST: The levaya will take place tomorrow, at 9 a.m., at the Yavne High School building of the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland, located at 2475 S. Green Road in Beachwood, Ohio.

{Yossi Schneider-Matzav.com Newscenter}