Rav Yosef Tendler zt”l


rabbi-yosef-tendlerIt is with great sadness that we report the passing of Rav Yosef Tendler zt”l, longtime menahel of Yeshiva Ner Yisroel High School in Baltimore, a short while ago.

Rav Tendler was a son of Rav Isaac Tendler, a talmid of Radin in Europe. When he came to America, Rav Isaac learned at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon on the Lower East Side near the Tendler home and eventually took the position as rov of the Kaminetzer Shul.

As a child and teen, Rav Yosef was a student at Rabbi Jacob Joseph School in New York from first through 12th grades. After high school, Rav Tendler attended Yeshiva University in Washington Heights. He was placed in a level where one could aspire to enter the shiur of Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik the following year. In order to prepare himself, Rav Tendler decided to do some “enrichment” during the summer. With two friends from YU, he went to learn at Bais Medrash Govoah in Lakewood. He had no intention of staying and, in fact, had re-registered for the next term at YU.

When he came to take leave of the rosh yeshiva, Rav Aharon Kotler, at the end of the summer of 1950, Rav Aharon asked him to come back to Lakewood for Simchas Torah, to which he agreed.  He was so uplifted by the ruach of that Simchas Torah that he decided to stay for one year. During the Hakafos, Rav Elya Svei took Rav Tendler to Rav Aharon and asked the rosh yeshiva to tell him to remain in Lakewood.

In 1950, when Rav Tendler was in Lakewood, the yeshiva had approximately 40 bochurim and 20 yungeleit. When Rav Tendler left Lakewood eleven years later, there were approximately 60 bochurim and 40 yungeleit.

Some of the other Lakewood talmidim in Rav Tendler’s time included Rav Meir Hershkowitz, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Bais Binyomin of Stamford; Rav Chaim Epstein, rosh yeshiva of  Yeshiva Zichron Meilech; Rav Yankel Schiff, son-in-law of the Brisker Rav; Rav Yisroel Meir Kagan and Rav Yitzchok Wasserman, roshei yeshiva of Yeshiva Toras Chaim of Denver; Rav Yaakov Schnaidman and Rav Chaim Bressler, roshei yeshiva of Yeshiva Bais Moshe Scranton; Rav Yechiel Perr, rosh yeshiva of  Yeshiva Derech Ayson of Far Rockaway; Rav Meir Stern, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Gedolah of Passaic; Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Slabodka in Bnei Brak; and Rav Yitzchok Feigelstock, rosh yeshiva of  Mesivta of Long Beach.

After his second year in Lakewood, Rav Tendler went to Rav Aharon to discuss leaving the yeshiva, as he wanted to return to Yeshiva University to get a degree. It was almost unheard of in those days not to get a college degree for reasons of parnassah. Rav Aharon said to Rav Tendler, “How can you rely on the seichel of a teenager to decide your future? I am older and have more experience in life. Rely on me.” And Rav Tendler stayed on.

Rav Aharon was Rav Tendler’s shadchan. One day, Rav Tendler was sitting and learning in the bais medrash and he noticed a gentleman looking at him. This guest was walking around, but Rav Tendler sensed that he was observing him. That turned out to be Rav Tendler’s future father-in-law, Rav Menachem Perr, who was friendly with Rav Aharon and Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky from their days in Slabodka. When he came to America, he learned at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon on the Lower East Side under the Maiseter Illuy, and he later served as rov in South Ozone Park, near Kennedy Airport.

Rav Tendler learned in kollel for more than three years and then left because he ran out of money. He went to Rav Aharon, who told Rav Tendler that he should apply to teach the 5th grade at Bezalel Hebrew Day School in Lakewood and that, if he was hired, he should still come learn in the yeshiva in the afternoon and receive the $40 kollel check. Rav Tendler applied but someone else was hired.

In 1961, Rav Aharon sent Rav Tendler to apply for a 6th grade position in Asbury Park with the same stipulation that he could continue in kollel while teaching in the morning. That also didn’t work out.  A couple of days later, Rav Dov Schwartzman, Rav Aharon’s son-in-law, went to Rav Tendler and said that he had gotten a call from Rav Yaakov Weinberg that Yeshiva Ner Yisroel was seeking in a rebbi to teach 12th grade.  The mechinah had been founded in 1957 and there had been a turnover of menahelim every year. After teaching 12th grade for one year, Rav Tendler was asked to teach the first shiur in the yeshiva. At that time, Rav Weinberg asked Rav Tendler to suggest someone to teach his 12th grade shiur. Rav Tendler called one of his chavrusos in Lakewood, Rav Moshe Heinemann. He told Rav Tendler that he had enough money to last one more year in kollel and felt that he had no right to leave Lakewood, where he was gaining so much. Consequently, Rav Tendler called another of his chaveirim in Lakewood, Rav Nosson Nussbaum, and proposed that he come to teach the 12th grade in the Ner Yisroel mechinah. He went for a “probeh” and was given the position.

In 1964, having gone through seven menahelim from 1957 to 1964, Rav Weinberg, with the haskamah of the rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ner Yisroel, Rav Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman zt”l, asked Rav Tendler to become the menahel of the mechinah and also to teach one of the 12th grade shiurim .

Rav Tendler spent the ensuing decades – over 45 years – wholly devoted to the yeshiva, inspiring generations of talmidim and imparting the lessons learned from his rabbeim.

Among his many achievements was founding Pride of the Farm when he identified a need for cholov Yisroel products. he took great pride in it and offered his guidance and expertise for years without remuneration.

The levaya will take place at Yeshiva Ner Yisroel in Baltimore. Exact times will be posted soon.

Rav Tendler’s brothers are  Rav Moshe Dovid Tendler, is a rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon and rov of Community Synagogue in Monsey, NY, and Rav Sholom Tendler, rosh yeshiva at Mesivta Birchas Yitzchok of Los Angeles, rov of Young Israel of North Beverly Hills, and vice president of Rabbinical Council of California. Rav Tendler’s brother-in-law, Rav Yechiel Perr, is rosh yeshiva of  Yeshiva Derech Ayson of Far Rockaway.

Yehi zichro boruch.

{Rabbi Elchanan Oberstein-Baltimore Jewish Life}

{Casriel Bauman-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Boruch Dayan HaEmes. The article is nice but has a lot of detail of his early life and almost nothing about his close to 50 years as menahel and his great accomplishments. I guess that will be coming…

  2. The Mechina is an ivy league high school producing thousands of talmidim who carry strong Torah values because of the derech instilled by Rabbi Tendler.


  3. A true Menahel implants a part of himself in each student as a permanent positive life value
    My sons were the beneficiaries of his wonderful midos and guidance. Words cannot express my gratitude.

    Yehi zichro boruch.

  4. I have tremendous hakaras hatov to r tendler for his hadracha when I was in the mechina. His tough love helped me get back on track after a rough ninth grade. It was only in twelfth grade that we realized how big his heart really was. Yehi zichro boruch.

  5. Rabbi Tendler led the Mechina at Ner with tremendous dedication and love. I had the pleasure of working with the Rav this past summer while he was trying to recover from his illness. His desire to get well and return to his duties was outstanding. I have never seen anyone like him ! His desire was very powerful. I cannot say enough about this giant of a man, Rebbi, leader, father, Zeidi, etc. And do not forget he was a Bal Middot par excellance. A tremendous loss of KYisroal. He left many beautifull children, and descendants. May he now pray for KYisroel for the final redemption. Good bye Rabbi Tendler.

  6. The levaya for Harav Yosef Tendler will take place Thursday, February 9th – 16th Shevat in the Yeshiva Bais HaMedrash at 11:15 AM.The Kevura will be at the Agudas Yisroel Cemetery- 6300 Hamilton Avenue, Rosedale MD.

  7. One cannot imagine the Impact this Godol had on us in the sixties, when we came to the Yeshivah,
    His VAREMKITE that he gave over to every Bochur, then is truly going to be missed now. Making sure that TIME, was a very important word, that he made us understand, not to be MIVATEL it with unimportant things, but to use it, for the purpose of making oneself and others in becoming, EHRLICHE YIDDEN down the road. Not every Bochuer was the same, but he tried to maximize everyones YECHOLUS to each and everyone of us.
    His Rebbizen Zol Zein Gezunt was part of that to when having us over for Friday Nite or Day Seudos.
    May he be a MEILITZ YOSHER for his Rebbizen, Children, Brothers: and Yeshivas NER Yisroel, which is such a Wonderful MOKOM TORAH which is to his credit, of the AMEILIS that he put into the MECHINA:

  8. to poster number 8: the answer is…NO ONE. as was said at the levaya, it’s an irreplaceable loss, a sentiment i agree with.