Rav Yechiel London zt”l

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candle-small5It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Rav Yechiel London zt”l, founder of Nefesh Academy who was renowned for his efforts in being mekareiv our Russian brethren from the former Soviet Union.

Twenty years ago, thanks to Rabbi London, the residents of Flatbush opened their homes and their hearts to their fellow Russian Jews. On a fateful Thursday, the day before Erev Rosh Hashanah in 1989, Rabbi London went with other askanim to JFK Airport to welcome several flights of immigrants who were coming to New York from the Soviet Union. At 7 p.m., it became clear that many of the new immigrants had nowhere to go. Generally, the HIAS immigrant agency sent these immigrant families to live in welfare hotels until they could find a permanent home. But with such a large volume of newcomers, there simply wasn’t enough room.

So there it was, the night before Yom Tov, and Rabbi London was asked if he could place “about a hundred” immigrants with local families. Despite the formidable task ahead of him, Rabbi London rose to the challenge. All night long, he made phone calls. The response was overwhelming. One by one, the Jewish families of Flatbush opened their hearts and their homes to these new immigrants and hosted them for Yom Tov. As the night progressed, it turned out that there were actually over two hundred people to place. But by 5 a.m., just as people were leaving their homes to go to selichos, a place was found for each of the immigrants.

Rabbi London didn’t rest until every single one was placed.

That encapsulates the life of Rabbi London, a life lived for others, a live dedicated to Hashem and spreading His Torah.

Rabbi London never abandoned those 200 immigrants, nor did he neglect hundreds of others who came to the United States since. He set up programs to teach them about Yiddishkeit. He sponsored continuous Shabbos hospitality with local families. He taught them AlefBais and showed them how to daven.  He encouraged them to provide their children with a Jewish education. And eventually, he founded Nefesh Academy, a Torah-true school for immigrant girls.

Nefesh was established in March 1990 with 47 children. Since then, it has grown and flourished beyond anyone’s imagination, and it is now run by his son, Rabbi Sroya London, who serves as dean of the school. The outstanding hatzlacha of Nefesh’s kiruv efforts is legendary, thanks to Rabbi London.

The levaya will be held this Sunday, at 10 a.m., at Shomrei Hachomos Chapels, located at 4218 Fort Hamilton Avenue in Boro Park Brooklyn, and kevurah will take place at the bais hakevaros in Woodbridge, NJ.

Yehi zichro boruch.

{Dovid Bernstein-Matzav.com Newscenter}

2 COMMENTS

  1. Rabbi London founded YESHIVA HAICHEL HASTORAH FROM BROWNSVILLE BROOKLYN TO SPANISH HARLEM ONE OF THE FIRST BALAI TESHUVA YESHIVAS TAKING IN BOYS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD. AND BOY WHO WOULD BE CALLED TODAY AT RISK. AND MAKING MENTCHIN FROM THEM.

  2. First commenter is correct. Report needs to be corrected. Nefesh was only later in his life, his earlier great work needs to be covered too.

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