Today’s Yahrtzeits & History – 17 Kislev


yahrtzeit-candleRav Yosef Yoizel Horowitz, Alter of Novardok (1849[or 1858]-1919). Born in the Lithuanian town of Plongian to Rav Shlomo Zalman, Rav and Dayan of the town, Rav Yosef Yoizel joined Kovno’s Kollel Perushim where he studied under Rav Itzele Blazer, Rav Naftali Amsterdam and Rav Avraham Shenker, spending at least 18 hours a day – most of the time standing- studying. He also spent two lengthy periods learning in solitude – first, he secluded himself in a small room for a year and a half after tragically losing his first wife during childbirth; later, learning in a room in a forest for 12 years, leaving only to visit his family for Shabbosos. In 1894, Rav Yosef Yoizel began to visit the Alter of Kelm, Rav Simcha Zissel Ziv. Later, he established a large yeshiva in Novorodok and was responsible for creating a whole network of yeshivas. During the War, in 1914, he moved the yeshiva – with its bachurim – to Hommel in the Ukraine, as the Germans advanced on Novardok. In 1918, he moved it to Kiev.

Rav Chai Taib of Tunisia, author of HaLev Hitin (1835)

Rav Shlomo Heiman, Rosh Yeshiva of Beis Medrash Elyon, Tora Vodaas (1893-1944). Born in Parenz, near Minsk, Reb Shlomo entered the yeshiva in Halusk at age 12, where he learned under Rav Baruch Ber Leibowitz. He remained there until 1917, when he married Chaya Feiga Rudensky of Volozhin. That year, he was appointed by Rav Baruch Ber to serve as Rosh Yeshiva in Knesses Bais Yitzchak. When anti-Semitic harassment forced him to leave the area, the Chafetz Chaim asked Rav Shlomo to teach in his yeshiva. When WWI ended, Rav Elchonon Wasserman asked Rav Shlomo to be a Rosh Yeshiva in Baranovitch. In 1927 Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzenski invited Rav Shlomo to be Rosh Yeshiva of the Ramailles Yeshiva in Vilna, a position he held for almost eight years. In 1935, with Rav Chaim Ozer’s approval, Rav Shlomo accepted an invitation to head Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. Thus he was spared, through hashgacha pratis, the horrors of WWII. Since he arrived in America a few years before the onset of the Holocaust, he was able to aid in the rescue of Bnei Torah and Rebbeim.

Rav Avraham Yochanan Blumenthal (1877-1966). Born to his parents one year after they made aliyah from Hungary, he married in 1895, and – despite the death of three of his children and his wife’s becoming hard of hearing – he began an orphanage for the destitute of Yerushalayim during World War I. Beis Zion Blumenthal has been continued by his grandson, Rav Eliezer Rakovsky (d. 1996) and his great grandson, Rav Baruch Rakovsky.

Today in History – 17 Kislev

· Ezra went to the Bais Hamikdosh and fasted, davened and cried in public, 348 BCE. A large assembly joined him in tefillah, and the kohanim swore to send away their non-Jewish wives.
· Massacre of Jews of Ausburg, Germany, 1349.
· Anti-Jewish riots in Paris which result in many Jews killed, 1380.
· In Mexico, Luis de Carvajal el Mozo, his mother, and three sisters were burned at the stake together with five other Crypto-Jews who were also accused of Judaizing, 1596.
· Jews of Nassau, Germany granted equality, 1848.
· Anti-Jewish violence in Bucharest, 1897.
· Polish soldiers organized a pogrom against Jews of Galicia, Poland, 1918.
· End of the Hungarian death march of Jews, 1944.
· A day after the United Nations vote, the Israeli War of Independence begins when a bus near Lod is attacked and five of its passengers killed, 1947. The Arabs proclaim a general strike and attack the Jewish commercial quarter near the Old City of Yerushalayim.

{Yahrtzeits licensed to by Manny Saltiel and Newscenter}


  1. 17 Kislev is also the (Hebrew) date of December 7, 1941, the famous date of Pearl Harbor. This was that on this day, Japanese forces launched a massive air and naval assault on the major U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, near Honolulu, Hawaii.  The severe bombing massacred over 2,400 people, destroyed numerous battleships, warplanes, and other military equipment, and thus gravely weakened U.S. power in the Pacific region.  [The surprise attack was viewed as fiendish trickery, for at that time, the Japanese government was engaged in negotiations with the U.S. government for a (supposedly) peaceful resolution of tensions.  The American people were thus greatly enraged and forgot about their earlier attitudes of isolationism.  Now, all they wanted was to take revenge on Japan.]

    It thus marked the beginning of the U.S. entry into World War II, and thus the beginning of (what would eventually be) the end of the abusive Holocaust bloodbaths being wrought by the German-Italian-Japanese Axis tyrannies.