Friday, November 24, 2006

Mar-heshvan IV

21 Heshvan - My uncle Rabbi Joseph Levinson, Ha-rav Yosef ben Shammai - passed away in 5760. My uncle was the Remser Rav, aka the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel on Avenue A and Remsen Avenue in East Flatbush. He was well known in the Rabbinical Council of America. I celebrated Pesah at his community sedarim two consecutive years when my parents were too busy in their drycleaning establishment to prepare their own sedarim. I would usually get maftir when I visited him.
When the neighborhood started going down and others hightailed it out for "safer" places and sold their shuls to churches he stayed put and continued serving those too old or poor to leave. He said Hallel in his shul on Yom Ha-atzma'ut even after it became politically incorrect in Brooklyn to do so. A product of several Litvish yeshivot, he was always cool and level headed and I never heard him raise his voice to anyone. He had several heart attacks and congestive heart failure, and I was visiting him in the hospital when the heart monitor went flat and he joined Yitzchak Rabin and Rav Meir Kahane, who were also taken from us in this bitter month of Heshvan. I had the z'chut to help carry his aron to kvura and to fill in the grave. Yehi zikhro barukh.