Boca Raton – Three Shabbosim – December 2014 – January 2015 – February 2015

I have meant to blog, however, did not have the time. Since the first of the year, we were in Boca three times and I met and met great and interesting people.

1) Professor Mordechai Kedar
2) Mort Klein
3) Borough Park
 4) The four Weisses
5) Rabbi Michael Steinberg

Professor Mordechai Kedar, and Mort Klein,

In December 2014, BRS brought in Professor Mordechai Kedar as a scholar in residence. I heard him three times; right after morning prayer services, one hour before Mincha, and after Sholosh Suddos.

Professor Mordechai Kedar is a PHD and professor at Bar Ilan University. He was with IDF intelligence for 25 years. The professor’s speech before Mincha was excellent. He spoke about nation building in the Mideast. The countries in the Mideast were arbitrarily formed in the early part of the 20th century by putting lines on a map, disregarding religion, families, clans, and villages. As a result, there are many failed countries as the ethnic, family, and religious makeups are in friction with one another. Despite great oil wealth the countries are in turmoil. Wealth does not bring stability, but rather stability brings wealth.

After the Sholsoh Suddos meal, most people were headed to the Shul for the evening services. Professor Mordechai Kedar and Mort Klein were arguing about policy. Mort Klein did not let up. I stood near them, listening to these great men talking.

Borough Park:
After Professor Mordechai Kedar’s lecture, my friend and his wife were walking by me and I said hello. My friend is from Borough Park and would never sit in a Shul next to his wife, would never go to a lecture by an Israeli Intellectual even if he is Frum, yet in Boca he does. This is the magic of Boca Raton Synagogue.

The Four Weisses:
I met four Weisses during these three times in chronological order:

1) Steven I Weiss –
Steven I Weiss is an investigative journalist, whose work appears on NPR, JTV. He was sitting in the hallway, with his daughter in a stroller and I struck up a conversation. He was reading a book written about torture and he was to interview the author in a few weeks. We spoke about a few issues. He said that he broke the story about YU’s $100MM of investment losses.

2) Farley Weiss –
I was privileged to meet Farley Weiss, President of Young Israel. He has moved to the Boca Raton community. His zeal to help the Jewish people is refreshing. I wish him well. I told him the Vort of Reb Moshe Soloveichik. Reb Moshe said that Young Israel saved Orthodoxy in New York. Young Israel was the transition during the first half of the 20th century and into the 1960s, when it was hard to be Orthodox and today. Although the young Jewish families did not have strong connection to Orthodoxy, they belonged to the Young Israel Shuls and stayed within Orthodoxy. Their kids became more Orthodox, and filled the yeshiva and day schools. In Chicago, where the Traditional movement was strong, these same types of Jews belonged to Traditional Shuls did not remain Orthodox. Traditional Shuls do not have , and are not within the world of Orthodoxy. Their members ended up not keeping Shabbos or Kashrus. Their kids moved further away from Orthodoxy.

3) Rabbi Avi Weiss –
The Shabbos before Purim, Rabbi Avi Weiss and his wife came to Boca Raton Synagogue for a Bar Mitzvah. Rabbi Efrem Goldberg welcomed Rabbi Avi Weiss to Boca Raton. I spoke for a few minutes to him and told Rabbi Weiss that I love Rabbis Lopatin and Rabbi Wolkenfeld. I told him that I walk 5.5 miles just to be at Anshe Sholem to listen to both Rabbis. The Jewish people owe Rabbi Avi Weiss a thank you for his activism for Russian Jewry when it was not popular.

4) Joseph Weiss
At the Shabbos before Purim, I also saw Joseph Weiss. Joseph Weiss is from Chicago and he retired to Boca Raton Synagogue a few months ago. He has a daughter who lives in Boca Raton Synagogue, and his son-in-law is the head of NCSY in Boca. He is doing an excellent job. I am sad to report that on Purim, Joseph Weiss collapsed and was Niftar. He was able to retire to Boca Raton Synagogue; a place of Torah, Shiurum, Yiddishkiet, great personalities, and his time a BRS was cut short. May your family know no more sorrow.

Looking for Rabbi Michael Steinberg:
I have been looking for Rabbi Michael Steinberg  for years. Michael Stein was my classmate at Arie Crown. The last time I saw him was in 1968 -1969, playing basketball.    He was taller and a better basketball player than myself.  Michael was shirtless and not wearing a Yarmulke. Over the years, I heard that he went to Israel, became a student of Rabbi Gustman, and became a great Torah scholar. He was in Rabbi Gustman’s Yeshiva in Rechavia, called Nezach Yisroel. During my recent trip to Israel, I walked into Netzech Israel and found out the Rabbi Gustman’s Yeshiva fell apart after his death.  Michael Steinberg is a Rosh Kollel, and has a place near the central bus station. I never did find Michael Steinberg. I was watching my grandkids in BRS’s playground and sat next to David Steinber, Michael Steinberg’s nephew. Wow. David grew up in Skokie and I remember his father. The Steinbergs were the only family in our school from Logan Square, located about 7 miles from school. The boys had to take two buses every morning to get to school. Amazingly, at BRS I was sitting next to his nephew, David. David filled my in on Michael’s life. Michael Steinberg has a large family. The only “disappointing” thing is that none of Rabbi Michael Steinberg’s kids served in the IDF. I felt that with Michael growing up in Chicago, going to the Ida Crown Jewish Academy, he could be that Rosh Kollel who bridges the Bnei Brak world, the IDF, and the Dati Leumi world. Maybe he has.

Update –  March 17,2015:

I just met another relative of Rabbi Michal Steinberg.   This relative has kids in the IDF and works for Klal Yisroel.   I would only hope that the kids go to Rabbi Michael Steinberg before entering the IDF for a blessing, Rabbi  Michael Steinberg is there to say Divrei Brachah when his nephew’s unit graduates.  I have to believe that Rabbi Michael Steinberg learns with his nephews.  Michael Stein’s kids and their IDF cousins are united “B’Lev Eichod”.  Rabbi Michael Steinberg goes to give Shiur to the boys in the army base and has his nephew with his platoon spend a Shabbos, Yom Tuv, hear a Chabura in the Kollel.   Anything less would disappointing.


Update – July 21, 2015

I found on Rabbi Dov Lipman’s blog a moving tribute to Max Steinberg, a lone soldier from LA, who was killed in Gaza one year ago defending Israel. I watched the Kiddush Hashem of Max Steinberg,  the clips from his funeral and that over 30,000 people attended.   I expected to see Rabbi Michael Steinberg giving a eulogy, giving a Shiur on his Yahrzeit. Perhaps Max is a relative of Rabbi Michael, however, if not related the similar name should bring closeness. Max Steinberg’s sacrifice should energize the Rabbi Michael Steinberg family, especially, a family of Torah.