It is with great sadness that Matzav.com reports the passing of Rav Aaron Winter zt”l, rov of Tiferes Israel Chevra Kadisha in Chesterfield, Missouri.
Born on January 21, 1949, Rabbi Winter was a noted talmid chochom and Torah leader who inspired the growth of the Chesterfield community.
Tpheris Israel was established in 1883 in eastern St. Louis to welcome newly-arrived eastern European Jews. In 1973, under the direction of Rav Milton Polin and a group of pioneers, Tpheris Israel Congregation moved from eastern St. Louis to the suburban community of Chesterfield, Missouri.
When Rabbi and Rebbetzin Aharon Winter arrived in Chesterfield twenty-nine years ago, it was a small community searching for spiritual growth. The rabbi and rebbetzin had a mission. Imbued with the lofty ideals of Rav Henach Leibowitz, they believed that by simply introducing and presenting the emes of undiluted Torah to their Jewish brethren, no matter how unaffiliated they were, the Torah being taught would have the power to enter their neshamos and transform their lives. With the continued support of Rav Henoch, and in light of the fact that nearly half of Chesterfield’s population of 47,000 is Jewish, the community saw incredible communal and spiritual growth.
Over the next twenty-five years, the shul thrived and the baalei batim developed greater levels of shemiras hamitzvos and limud haTorah. These families of Tpheris Israel supported their rov in raising the mechitzah twice, building and maintaining an eruv, designing and building a beautiful mikvah, and establishing a yeshiva in the shul.
Ten years ago, Rabbi Winter invited Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim – Rabbi Winter’s alma mater, where he was a close talmid of Rav Henach Leibowitz zt”l – to open a branch in Missouri and use the shul as their home. This beautiful shidduch lasted eight years, until when MTI, Missouri Torah Institute, which had outgrown its small quarters in the shul, found a new home on a sprawling campus not too far away. As the kol Torah left the shul, Rabbi Winter intuitively understood that they must find something to replace the kedushah that the yeshiva had brought to the kehillah. He began to explore the feasibility of bringing in a kollel.
Rabbi Winter’s son, Rav Moshe Winter, a musmach of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, having grown up in Chesterfield and having devoted his life to the community, was asked to lead the project. Together, father and son began the process of building the kollel.
Fortuitous for Chesterfield, a suburb of St. Louis, Bais Medrash Govoah’s office is headed by Rabbi Sroy Levitansky, former associate rosh kollel of the St. Louis Kollel. Rabbi Levitansky suggested a unique choice to lead a chaburah of talmidei chachomim who would build Torah in Chesterfield: Rav Yitzchok Winter of Bais Medrash Govoah, son of Rav Kalman Winter zt”l of Silver Springs. A chaburah of yungeleit from Bais Medrash Govoah was handpicked to join this special kollel.
Thanks to Rabbi Winter, Chesterfield is unique for its achdus and its drive to be a city that is among the leading ranks in Klal Yisroel. It is blessed with beautiful mosdos thanks to Rabbi Winter. Chesterfield offers the serene lifestyle of a Midwestern community, while offering all the amenities of any other Jewish community in America – again thanks to Rabbi Winter. Chesterfield offers an eruv, a mikvah, day schools, a yeshiva high school, and ongoing learning and shiurim throughout the week – thanks to Rabbi Winter.
Rabbi Winter was niftar on October 4th. The family is sitting shivah at the Winter residence, located at 230 Brayhill Court in Chesterfield, MO.
Yehi zichro boruch.