It is with great sadness that we report the passing on Shabbos Bo, 4th Shevat, January 24, of Rav Yehoshua Yonason Lustig zt”l (1924-2015). Rabbi Lustig served as Rosh Yeshiva, Dayan, and Rav. As a young boy in Pressburg, his father Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Lustig, z”l Hy”d, gave him instructional guidelines to preserve his Yiddishkeit and included him the Kindertransport, the series of rescue efforts which brought thousands of refugee Jewish children to Great Britain from areas controlled by Nazi Germany between 1938 and 1940.
The Kindertransport was a rescue mission that took place immediately prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The United Kingdom took in 10,000 Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Free City of Danzig. The children were placed in welcoming British foster homes, hostels, schools and farms. Often these children were the only members of their families that survived the Holocaust.
Almost all of the children were placed in non-Jewish, non-religious, non-Orthodox environments. Some of the children who came from religious Jewish homes demanded kosher food and to be assigned to religious homes. Their requests were addressed and arrangements were made to accommodate them. Amongst those children, in addition to Rabbi Lustig, were Rabbi Hersh Ginzberg, Rosh Beth Din of Agudas Horabbonim, and Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss, Chief Rabbi of the Jerusalem Badatz.
Coming to the United States after the Holocaust, Rabbi Lustig became a regular in the household of Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l (1891-1986), Rosh Yeshiva Torah Vodaath. Rabbi Lustig became a confidant of Rabbi Kamenetsky. When Rabbi Kamenetsky surveyed cemetery plots, Rabbi Lustig was with him. Rabbi Kamenetsky arranged the marriage ceremony and sheva berachos fo Rabbi Lustig. Later, when Rabbi Lustig prepared his sefer, Lee Yehoshua, Rabbi Kamenetsky’s letter of warm endorsement was included.
Rabbi Lustig achieved prominence as a Torah scholar. In 1957, just 12 years after the Holocaust, he published Kuntress Dovor B’Ito, which had earned the treasured letter of endorsement from Rabbi Yonason Steiff, zt”l (1877-1958), Rosh Beth Din of Budapest and later Vienner Rav in Williamsburg. Kuntress Dovor B’Ito went through six printings.
Rabbi Lustig served as rebbi, and then principal, of Yeshiva Chasan Sofer; Rosh Yeshiva Kos Yeshios; Rav of B’nai Israel of Linden Heights in Boro Park; and Igud Dayan. He is survived by his Rebbetzin, sons, daighters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Shiva is at 706 East 4th Street, between Ditmas Avenue and Avenue F, in Brooklyn until Friday morning.