I was recently interviewed for the alumni section of the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey’s annual report. Among the questions I was asked was, “What advice would you give to current RYNJ students?” Without thinking twice, I said, “Spend as much time as you possibly can with Rabbi Kaminetsky. His incredibly loving and humble demeanor, coupled with his unparalleled desire to cater to the needs of all of his talmidim, make him someone who can have an enormous impact on the trajectory of your life. I know that he has, and continues to have, on mine.”
I shudder to think that future grades of RYNJ students, and the children of our community as a whole, will not be able to heed this advice. It is hard to imagine that they will not be exposed to the great wisdom, warmth and love of a man who selflessly devoted his life to the children and families of our community and of the greater Jewish community. I cannot envision the Jewish community without “Rabbi K.”
The Shabbat morning before Rabbi Kaminetsky, z”l, passed away, I was schmoozing with him outside of Congregation Beth Abraham after he attended the bar mitzvah of one of his students, as he did so often. Within our discussion, I joked with him that he should take more days off from school, just for the sake of it. He explained, “If Hashem gives me the koach (strength) to wake up in the morning, then I have a mission to fulfill. And I will, bli neder, never choose to take a day off from that mission.” I believe that this tidbit from our conversation sheds tremendous light upon who Rabbi Kaminetsky was and what he stood for. Above all, he was a man on a mission, a man who firmly believed that his purpose in this world was to inspire those around him to become better people and better Jews.
As I think about my personal relationship with Rabbi Kaminetsky, z”l, I think about how lucky I was to have had so many long and fruitful discussions with Rabbi Kaminetsky, z”l, in the halls of RYNJ, on the campus of Camp Kaylie, in the beis medrash of Bnai Yeshurun, at the various bar mitzvahs that we both attended, and in so many other places where he touched the lives of so many. Among other things, Rabbi Kaminetsky, z”l, encouraged and inspired me (both explicitly and implicitly) to go into chinuch and to do my best to inspire the next generation of Jews. My entire life’s mission has been shaped watching him lead by example, and through his guidance and support. I cannot imagine where I would be without him.
In the merit of a man who cared more about the growth and success of others than his own happiness and comfort, may we all try to think beyond our own lives so that we can make an indelible impact on the lives of others. Rabbi Kaminetsky, z”l, certainly did just that, and through our actions, his life and legacy can live on.
By Avi Rosalimsky