Rabbi Abba Zalka Gewirtz zt”l

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abba-zalka-gewirtzIt is with great sadness that we report the passing of Rabbi Abba Zalka Gewirtz zt”l, longtime vice president of Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland. Rav Gewirtz was a beacon of middos tovos and devoted decades to harbotzas haTorah, chinuch and gemillus chessed.

A close talmid of Rav Dovid Leibowitz zt”l at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, Rav Gewirtz later served as chief rabbi of Bradley Beach, New Jersey, in 1938. He then served as chief rabbi of Waterbury, Connecticut from 1944 to 1967. For forty-two years, until one year ago, he served as vice president of Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland. From 1969, Telshe Yeshiva’s financial obligations were carried by Rabbi and Mrs. Gewirtz.

Rabbi Gewirtz’s years were marked by a strong commitment to Torah scholarship and his uncanny ability to connect with Jews from all walks of life. He was well-known as a superb orator who has influenced generations of students and supporters of Torah education with his riveting speeches.

Rabbi Gewritz and his wife Libby moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, earlier this year so that they could be closer to their children. He is survived by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren following in his ways.

Rabbi Gewirtz’s petirah marks the end of an era. He will be greatly missed.

The levaya will take place tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. at  Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim in Queens. The kevurah will follow at  the Mount Judah Cemetery in Ridgewood, NY, near his rebbi, Rav Dovid Leibowitz zt”l.

Yehi zichro boruch.

{Shmiel Gellman-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. BDE

    Rabbi Gewirtz was a very special man. He was a very close talmid of Rav Dovid Leibowitz.

    He must have been close to 100, if not over.

    Not that this story portrays him, it’s an interesting tidbit nevertheless. I recall his son sitting on a comfortable chair one Rosh Hashana. He explained that he had bought it for his father to use in the Beis Midrash. He refused because Reb Pesach Stein, who sat near him, didn’t have one. So his son put it at Reb Pesach’s place. When son bought the new one, he still refused and insisted on sitting on an old simple plastic chair. He was about 90 at that time.

    Any levaya info?

  2. Baruch Dayan HaEmmet truly one of the few remaining links to past. Rabbi Gewirtz’s presence at the Yarzeit gatherings for Reb Dovid ZTVK’L ZT’A were always entertaining as they were heartfelt recollection of a a rebbi by a Talmid.

  3. Boruch Dayan Emes
    You didn’t mention great-great grandchildren, kein yirbu, also following in his ways. I know them personally!

  4. BDE
    R’ AZG was a true ambassador for Torah & Telshe Yeshiva.
    His representation of Torah-life to Jews of all backgrounds was a kiddush Hashem and an example for all of us to follow.

  5. The levaya is tomorrow at 1:30 pm at Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim in Flatbush ( 76-01 147th St., Flushing NY 11367) He was 95 years old.

  6. as any true telzer knows he wasn’t 95 (because his wonderful wife wouldnt let him say his age). But rather he was 80 plus 15.
    AZG 1 will be missed.

  7. Rabbi Gewirtz was more than a special man. He added to a tremendous amount to our walm “Telshe Experience” One notable mention, Rav Gifter Zatzal always used to Thank Rabbi Gewirtz, for having literally “Stepped Aside” from the Rabbonus offer in Waterbury CT, so that Rav Gifter can get that Shtella, telling the Board of the Shul that “Rav Gifter is so much more qualified” This among many other fine attributes will quickly bring him back in Yeshiva Shel Maala to the right places.
    Zichrono Livrocho

  8. the levaya seems to be in queens. I once heard Rav Gevirtz speak (at Rav Henoch Lebowitz’s Levaya) He was a true and real person speaking from his heart about a past only he could tell. I remember him saying, “I See the young [Rosh Yeshiva] wants me to stop, but I must just say one more thing about my Rebbe!” He just needed to say a few more minutes of truth and torah. Rav Gifter also speaks beautifully and warmly about him on a tape about telz [diversity in orthodoxy].

  9. Rabbi Gerwirtz From very close to Reb Gifter Z”L He was suppose to be the the Rabbi in Waterbury before Reb Giter But,He step down so Reb Gifter could have the position. After Reb Gifter left for Telz he became the Rav Of Watwebury Reb Gifter yarhziet was 23 of Teves and Reb Eli Meir was today. He had a big yad in building Telz

  10. The yongest of ten children his father R Yonah zal came to america in the 1890s
    a Gelitzianer from a family from Dembitz
    before leaving his father went to the Belzer for a bracha that there should be
    a hemshech of rabanus in america.
    we will miss him.

  11. Dovid and his oldest sister at Dovid’s house at 1340 e 31st st. Broolyn. His wife, son Yonah and daughter Dina are sitting in Silver Springs, MD.

    #13 correction, he didn’t step down. When he heard who his competition was, he removed his name from consideration.

    #14 correction, the family left Dembitz in mid 1800’s. They came to America from Fristig (I believe). The brocha came from the Divrei Yechezkel/Shinover and was for frum children which was a major accomplishment in America at that time.

  12. I don’t know if anyone will read this but I’m putting it out there.

    I’m a grandchild, reading these comments nearly ten years later because my daughter asked for the date of his petira.

    It is heartwarming to read find remembrances from people. You never know who or what you can affect/effect with your words as they are powerful.

    Use them well and often to say good things.

    Thank you.


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