It is with great sadness that Matzav.com reports the passing of Rabbi Aron Krawiec zt”l.
Born in Shanghai in 1946 during the period when the Mir Yeshiva was stationed there during and after World War II, Reb Aron was a son of Rav and Rebbetzin Mendel and Rashel Krawiec.
Rav Mendel was a noted rosh yeshiva at Yeshivas Rabbi Yaakov Yosef (RJJ) in Manhattan for many years and a renowned marbitz Torah.
Rebbetzin Rashel (nee Berek) was the oldest daughter of Rav Aharon Berek zt”l, the right hand and personal secretary of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky zt”l. Rebbetzin Rashel’s parents hosted the roshei yeshiva and gedolim of a magnificent era, and so she was zoche to feel like a daughter to Rav Shimon Shkop zt”l, Rav Elchochon Wasserman zt”l, Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l, the entire Greineman family, the Karelitz family, and so many others. She also got to know Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz zt”l and the roshei yeshiva of Telz, Slabodka and Mir, and their illustrious families.
As a youngster, Rebbetzin Rashel’s father took her along to Radin to discuss yeshiva-related issues with the Chofetz Chaim zt”l. She considered that visit with the elderly Chofetz Chaim to be a highlight in her life that sustained her in all difficult times.
Interestingly, the shidduch between Reb Aron’s parents, Rav Mendel and Rebbetzin Rashel, was arranged by Rav Aharon Kotler, as Rav Mendel was a talmid muvak of Rav Aharon and a member of the Rav Aharon’s household. Rebbetzin Rashel, a young girl of 20, got engaged to her illustrious chosson, a man of over 30 who was destined to become an outstanding marbitz Torah. It was because Rebbetzin Rashel was a kallah that she was saved during the war. She went along with the Mirrer Yeshiva to Shanghai and was hesitant to leave her parents and siblings. Her father would not leave, as he was busy with so much Hatzolah work. The Brisker Rov zt”l sent his daughter, Rebbetzin Lifsha Feinstein, a close friend of Rebbetzin Rashel, to speak to her, and the Rov encouraged her to leave with her chosson, reassuring her that Rav Mendel, who was a talmid muvhak of the Rov, would become a great rosh yeshiva.
After five long years in Shanghai, with all its trials and tribulations – the 120-degree hot weather, the rampant sicknesses, the stress, and the tensions and fears – the Krawiecs left for America. In Shanghai, it was Rav Avrohom Kalmanowitz zt”l and Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l who sustained them from afar in America, sending money for food and later the means for escape to America.
In Shanghai, Rav and Rebbetzin Ashkenazi, the local rov and rebbetzin, married off Rav Mendel and Rebbetzin Rashel and were their ‘unterfirers.’ The tremendous chizuk that Rav Mendel and Rebbetzin Rashel received from Rav Chatzkel Levenstein zt”l was crucial to their wellbeing. It was Rav Chatzkel who supported them – and pushed them all to live on – when at the end of the war they all realized that their homes in Europe had gone up in flames and that their families all perished.
Rav Mendel and Rebbetzin Rashel immigrated to America, arriving in San Francisco. They then boarded a train that took them to New York City. A relative found them two rooms in a boarding house in Sea Gate, Brooklyn. With a minimum of possessions and the two small children – Reb Aron and his sister – who were born in Shanghai, they arrived as “greenhorns” in a foreign land.
Rav Mendel became the rosh yeshiva at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yaakov Yosef after Rav Aharon Kotler recommended him for that position. It was not easy traveling daily from Sea Gate, saying two shiurim a day, and preparing the talmidim for semicha, and it was an uphill battle, as American parents were not really prepared to have their sons so engrossed in Torah.
At Rebbetzin Rashel’s levaya, Rav Meir Hershkowitz, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Bais Binyomin of Stamford and one of Rav Mendel’s earliest talmidim, described in vivid detail the challenges that Rav Mendel faced. Rav Mendel turned young, talented American bochurim into true Bnei Torah, and future roshei yeshiva, rabbonim and mechanchim.
Rav Mendel and Rebbetzin Rashel later fulfilled their lifelong dream to settle in Eretz Yisroel, where Rav Mendel became rosh yeshiva in Karlin Stolin. Unfortunately, Rav Mendel became ill in Eretz Yisroel and later returned to the US and settled in Boro Park, where he lived until the end of his life.
Reb Aron was greatly influenced by his illustrious parents and carried their images in his mind throughout his life. He learned at Yeshivas Brisk in Yerushalayim under Rav Berel Soloveitchik zt”l and was a talmid of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, NJ, under Rav Shneur Kotler zt”l.
Reb Aron married his wife, Rochel, a daughter of Rabbi and Mrs. Avrohom Newhouse, and the young couple settled in Brooklyn.
Reb Aron, throughout his life, was devoted to limud haTorah, spending much time at the Mirrer Yeshiva and other mekomos haTorah in Flatbush, where he lived. During his final decade and a half, he spent his days fully immersed in Torah learning.
Reb Aaron was a talmid chochom and a yorei Shomayim whose deeply held ideals were passed on to his upstanding family, including his children, who are all respected bnei Torah, accomplished members of their respective communities.
After residing in Flatbush for decades, the Krawiecs relocated several years ago to the Pine River Village senior community in Lakewood, NJ.
Reb Aaron endured a difficult and trying illness for the last few years. Despite daunting challenges, his family, inspired by his example, maintained remarkable strength during that period and cared for Reb Aaron with great devotion and dedication. Despite living with yissurim for the last six years, Reb Aron didn’t utter a complaint, accepting the nisyonos with emunah.
Reb Aron’s oldest granddaughter is slated to get married in several weeks.
Reb Aaon is survived by his wife, Mrs. Rochel Krawiec; their six children, including Rav Meir Krawiec, R”M at Yeshiva Gedolah Zichron Moshe of South Fallsburg; Rabbi Avrohom Krawiec of Lakewood; Reb Zevi Krawiec of Lakewood; Reb Eliezer Krawiec of Los Angeles; Mrs. Shifra Bloom and Mrs. Sarah Gosherg.
Reb Aaron is also survived by his two siblings, Rebbetzin Malka David, wife of Rav Hillel David, rov and rosh yeshiva of Khal Yeshiva Shaarei Torah in Flatbush and noted senior posek; and Mrs. Sheina Kestenbaum of Baltimore, Maryland.
The levayah is schedule for 12:30 p.m. at the Pine River Village Shul, located at 500 Pine Street, after which the aron will be flown at 4 p.m. from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Eretz Yisroel for kevurah in Yerushalayim.
Yehi zichro boruch.