Rav Zevi Trenk to be Honored at Yeshiva Darchei Torah Dinner


rav-zevi-trenkYou can’t miss it. Outside the home of Rabbi and Mrs. Zevi Trenk on East Ninth Street in Flatbush, a sign is affixed to the wall. In addition to the house number, it reads, in block letters: TRENK. At night, it is illuminated, and its message is clear: all are invited to come inside for a warm meal or a listening ear. During the day, the front door is rarely closed, let alone locked. On Shabbos and Yom Tov, the dining room is full of guests at seudos that last for nearly three hours. On Sukkos, the Trenks’ legendary sukkah, a veritable wonderland of Torah-themed exhibits and portraits of gedolim, is a magnet for visitors of all stripes.

Early each morning, Rav Trenk makes the 30-minute commute from this bastion of hachnosas orchim to Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway, where he is menahel of Mesivta Chaim Shlomo. He has held this position almost since the Mesivta’s founding in 1995. Before that he was a rebbi at Yeshivat Ateret Torah; previously he had been a part-time rebbi at Yeshiva of Brooklyn.

To Rav Trenk, his activity at home and his position at the yeshiva are all part of harbotzas haTorah, the dissemination of Torah. Whether holding forth on the weekly parsha and the glory of Shabbos at his table or ensuring the success of his talmidim in Far Rockaway, he is constantly teaching and spreading Torah.

Rav Trenk was born into a home steeped in harbotzas haTorah. His father, Reb Shia z”l, owned a dry goods store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Despite his lack of a complete yeshiva education – as a child, he had to work to support his widowed mother and seven siblings – Mr. Trenk “lived with the daas [outlook] of a ben Torah,” Rav Trenk relates. “He saw to it that everybody in the mishpacha had kosher tefillin. Before a couple would get married, they had to come to Uncle Shia [for guidance]. Lulav and esrog you got from Uncle Shia. He learned his whole life.” Rav Trenk’s mother, Mrs. Shirley Trenk, was “a tremendous lady,” and Rav Trenk lists his parents among his primary rabbeim.

Rav Trenk spent his childhood summers in Camp Munk, where he came under the influence of the legendary Rabbi Joshua Silbermintz, zt”l. He studied at Yeshiva Toras Emes Kamenitz and at the Mirrer Yeshiva. At Mir, his primary rabbeim were the mashgiach, Rav Hirsh Feldman zt”l, and the roshei yeshiva, Rav Shmuel Brudny zt”l  and Rav Shmuel Berenbaum zt”l.

It was his one-time chavrusah in the Mirrer Yeshiva, Rav Yaakov Bender, who offered him his current post. Mesivta Chaim Shlomo was in its infancy but rapidly growing; it needed a unique person to lead it. “I was already teaching Mishnayos in Darchei [to the fifth grade],” Rav Trenk recalls. “I said [to Rabbi Bender], ‘Can I have it for a year?’ He said, ‘Either you take it or you don’t.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’m taking it.’ The rest is history.”

Over the last fifteen years, Rav Trenk and his fellow mechanchim at the Mesivta have indeed made history, running a world-class mesivta with over 300 talmidim while never losing sight of the individual. Rav Trenk declares, “Menahel means bringing out the best in every single person who steps over the threshold of the Mesivta.”

How does he accomplish that? There are the constant meetings with parents, rabbeim and individual talmidim to figure out the best way for the boys to grow. Rav Trenk delivers brief shmuessen three nights a week during night seder. He delivers a bekius shiur each afternoon. He arranges extra-curricular learning sedarim and innovative programs to help the boys expand their learning horizons.

Rav Trenk summarizes his chinuch philosophy: “Every single talmid in this yeshiva, every secretary, every kitchen worker who has to do with the Mesivta, must be a happy person. That’s what the Mesivta is about. What about Torah? What about learning? If a person is not happy, he cannot shteig, he cannot daven, he cannot learn. The first thing is: get him happy. Afterwards, you can start bringing out the best in him.”

Fifteen years on, the fruits of Rav Trenk’s efforts have undoubtedly borne success. Alumni of the Mesivta, who live in various American states and foreign countries, include rabbeim, kollel yungeleit, lawyers and plumbers. Each in his own way was molded in large part by his rabbeim at Mesivta Chaim Shlomo, and by its menahel, Rav Zevi Trenk. He is already a grandfather, but one suspects that the final chapters of this remarkable mechanech’s career have yet to be written.

Rav Trenk will be receiving the Harbotzas Torah Award at the yeshiva’s dinner at Marina Del Rey. For reservations or journal ads, call 718.868.2300 or email dinner@darchei.org.

{Dovid Bernstein-Matzav.com Newscenter} 


  1. Reb Zevi was a close Chaver of mine from the Mir. He is truly a Tzadik in our times. the greatest Siman of a true tzadik is one who helps even Meshugoyim, because not only are they not appreciative, after you help them they spit in your face. none of this ever deterred Reb Zevi, he does Chesed to, literally, everybody and anybody.I send people to him for Berachos.

  2. R’ Trenk is truly an amazing person. I remember going to his house for a farher before I joined the yeshiva in its early years. It was easy to see how he cared for every Jew, and tried to put a nervous young boy switching schools at ease.

    He is truly the Avraham Avinu of our times. Nobody is ever turned away from his door for anything. I don’t know if this is still the case, but he used to have a rack of raincoats in all different sizes, in case someone was stuck in the rain. They were free to borrow a coat.

    He used to host a Shabbos with the 12th grade of the yeshiva at his house. He would take us to visit various Rabbonim, including R’ Berenbaum zt”l, R’ Miller zt”l, and others. It was an amazing Shabbos.

    Hashem shoudl help him continue to educate and guide our children for many years!

  3. You could talk all day and all night about his Chesed, and it still would not be enough. His wife is Sarah Imainu to his Avraham Avinu. May they be Zoche to many, many years of health and happiness.