The Bostoner Rebbe, Rav Levi Yitzchok Horowitz zt”l

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bostoner-rebbe-1By Dovid Bernstein,

[Updated/Video and photos below.] It is with great sadness that we report the passing of  Rav Levi Yitzchok Horowitz, the Bostoner Rebbe, who led his kehillah in Boston for 64 years before moving to Eretz Yisroel two years ago. He was 88.

Photo Album of the Rebbe zt”l:

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A member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Eretz Yisroel and a leader in the Agudas Yisroel in America, the Bostoner Rebbe was long been involved in matters concerning the larger Jewish community. The Rebbe launched out-reach programs for long lost Jewish youth and galvanized his community to help thousands of immigrants. At the end of World War II, the Rebbe and his Rebbetzin housed and found residences for hundreds of families of newly- arrived, displaced persons.

After building a large and successful kehillah in Boston and later Brookline, the Rebbe turned his efforts, in 1984, to creating a branch of his American community in Israel. Today, that community, in Har Nof, on the outskirts of Yerushalayim, is home to thousands of American Jews. In 1999, an additional community was established in Beitar, for the next generation of Bostoner Chassidim.

It is the Har Nof community that the Rebbe led for the last couple of years.

Prior to that, for about 20 years, the Rebbe and his Rebbetzin spent part of each year, usually from Adar to Elul, at their home in Yerushalayim.

Kiruv Pioneer

The Bostoner Rebbe was born on July 3, 1921 in Boston, Massachusetts to his parents, Rav Pinchos Dovid and Rebbetzin Sarah Sasha Horowitz. His father, founder of the Bostoner chassidus, was niftar in November 1941. In 1942/5702, shortly after his father’s petirah, the Rebbe married his Rebbetzin, Rochel Unger Leifer of Cleveland, Ohio, a descendant of Reb Naftoli Ropshitzer and a granddaughter of the Stryzover Rebbe. The Rebbetzin was born in Stryzov, Poland, and was brought to the U.S. when she was only six year old.

The Rebbetzin later authored a bestselling book titled “The Bostoner Rebbetzin Remembers,” a book that uses old time logic to address modern day problems and issues.

In 1944, upon becoming the first American-born chassidishe rebbe, the Rebbe focused his efforts on what would be his primary thrust as rebbe: being mekarev the Boston area’s large number of college students, many of whom were away from home and in a perfect position to partake of all that he felt the New England Chassidic Center could offer them. Many tried to dissuade him, saying that chassidus and college did not and could not mix, but the Rebbe persevered and was personally responsible for returning many hundreds of students at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to their Jewish roots.

The Rebbe was a seventh generation descendent, and the closest living relative, of the Baal Shem Tov. The Rebbe published numerous seforim dealing with halacha, minhagim and tefillah. Thousands of faithful followers around the world will miss their beloved Rebbe, who inspired and guided them for decades.

The Bostoner Rebbe and the Kosel On Shavuos

Every year, the Bostoner Rebbe spent the Yom Tov of Shavuos in the Old City of Yerushalayim. Together with his loyal Chassidim and thousands of Yidden, he davened Shacharis k’vasikin, at dawn, at the Kosel Hamaarovi.

The regime of the British Mandate, which had given its approval to the Jordanian and Arab violence, finally came to an end after the Six Day War in the year 1967. The echoes of gunfire that characterized that time of terror faded, and life began to return to normal. As a result of the war’s end, all the holy places that had been held for years by Arabs since 1948 were liberated. The Jews had been prohibited from approaching these holy sites for many years, and were obviously barred from davening by the last remnant of the Bais Hamikdosh, the Kosel Hamaarovi.

As soon as the news of the Old City’s liberation spread, thousands of Jews streamed towards the Kosel Hamaarovi to pour out their hearts in prayer and thanks to Hashem.

The Bostoner Rebbe celebrated his bar mitzvah in the Old City and had the zechus of davening near the Har Habayis with his father. The Rebbe, who at the time was living in the United States, felt a deep yearning to immediately join the many Jews on their way home to the Kosel. However, making a trip to Eretz Yisroel during that period was not simple, and the Rebbe’s inspiration to travel to the Kosel did not come about. As Shavuos approached, the Rebbe was able to fulfill his dream, and he took leave of his family and Chassidim on his way to Eretz Yisroel. Tears formed in the Rebbe’s eyes as he once again beheld the stones of the holy Kosel after so many years. His heart longed to truly belong to this sacred place and to absorb its holiness, like a dove returning to its nest. The davening that took place that year by the Kosel, led by the Rebbe and joined by thousands of his fellow Jews, was stirring in its intensity. Every heart was moved when a collective cry of “Boruch Atah…Go’al Yisroel” ascended heavenwards from the crowd. Everyone was filled with praise and gratitude to the Rock and Redeemer of Klal Yisroel for His salvation and redemption.

The silence that reigned a few moments later, during the Amidah, was engraved on the hearts of all present forever. During those uplifting moments, every Jew devoted all his passionate emotions to the davening. It has thence been said: “Whoever did not hear that silence at the Kosel has never heard true silence in his life.” The holiness of the place and the significance of the time were tangible at this wonderful time of inspiration.

The Rebbe, who sensed the holiness of the auspicious time and place, was visibly moved by the awesomeness of the occasion. He therefore decided to make the Kosel Hamaarovi his permanent place of prayer on Shavuos. The Rebbe expressed his desire to be connected to the Kosel at the time of Kabbolas HaTorah, although he was obliged to leave his home and community in order to achieve this lofty goal. This custom continued until the end of his life, several decades after the liberation of the old city. The Rebbe’s minyan by the remnant of the Bais Hamikdosh became a regular ritual, and every year the Rebbe arrived with his Chassidim to celebrate Shavuos within the Old City walls.

Rofeh’s Lifesaving Work

The Rebbe and his Rebbetzin started the well-known chesed organization “Daughters of Israel in Boston in 1945 and founded Rofeh (Reaching Out Furnishing Emergency Healthcare), a non-profit medical referral and hospital program, which was one of the Rebbe’s mosdos hachessed and operated out of his office. Rofeh was established over five decades ago for the purpose of referring patients worldwide to the various medical experts in the Boston area. For those patients who actually visit Boston for treatment, surgery or consultation, Rofeh offers accommodations and a support system of volunteer groups.


The Rebbe suffered cardiac arrest on July 6th of this year and his health gradually declined. Yidden all over the world davened for his recovery, but this past Shabbos, his neshama returned to its Creator, as he passed away at Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center in Yerushalayim.

The Rebbe is survived by his children Rav Pinchos Dovid Horowitz, the Chuster Rav of Boro Park; Rav Mayer Alter Horowitz of Yerushalayim; Rebbetzin Shayna Frankel of Flatbush, wife of Rav Yosef Frankel, Vyelipoler Rov; Rav Naftali Horowitz of Brookline, Massachusetts; Rebbetzin Toby Geldzahler of Har Nof, wife of Rav Moshe Chaim Geldzahler; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The levaya of the Rebbe was held earlier tonight at his bais medrash in Har Nof. Kevurah took  place on Har Hazeisim.

Yehi zichro boruch.

For a video of the levaya, click below:

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See below for photos of the levaya:

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{Dovid Newscenter/Photo album: Yair Alpert/Levaya photos courtesy of Ladaat, Video taken by Yoel Reisiner}


  1. The Bostoner Rebbe was an ISH SHALOM who loved yidden and drew them closer. His home was open for every yid to visit (male/female). His yearly trips to Chevron were inspirational and gave chizuk to the residents of eir haavos.

  2. Info correction. The British Mandate ended in 1948, not 1967. The 6 day war in 1967 ended Jordan’s hold on yerushalayim and judea and samaria (for the previous 19 years) and Egypt’s hold on the Sinai and Gaza.

  3. Boston is not the same. I was, not by chance, in his house on Shabbos, in Boston, and i felt something and only after shabbos did i hear and put the very sad puzzle pieces together

  4. Shiva is bring observed in the Rebbe’s home in Yerushalayim, Rehov HaAdmor MiRozin 13/8, Har Nof. Please do not visit between the hours of 1-3:30pm or after 10pm.

    Davening times are:
    Shacharis: 7:30am; 8:00am and 8:30am
    Mincha: 3:30pm; 4:00pm and 4:30pm
    Maariv: 5:00pm

  5. once I had an honor to eat by the Rebbe’s house for Leil Shabbos and it was amazing to see that such A BIG GADOL could be so down to earth
    Yehi zichro boruch.

  6. The Bostoner Rebbe zt”l was an exceptional person. He was mekarev me when I was at Brandeis, and I will never forget his kindness, his warmth, his genuine caring for people, and also, his integrity, which he never compromised. He inspired by his example of how Chassidus could transform and uplift. It is more than a year now, but I still feel pain when I realize he is no longer with us.


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