RABBI YOSEF CHAIM SHNEUR KOTLER (1918-1982)
Rabbi Shneur Kotler (1918-1982) was famous as the Rosh Yeshiva of Beis Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, and for his leadership role in communal affairs of world Jewry.
Rabbi Yosef Chaim Shneur Kotler was the son of the famed Talmudic scholar Rabbi Aharon Kotler, Rosh Yeshiva in Kletzk, Poland and later the founder and Rosh Yeshiva of the famed Yeshiva Beis Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, New Jersey.
Rabbi Yosef Chaim Shneur Kotler was born in Slutsk, Russia, where his maternal grandfather Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer (1870-1953), was the Chief Rabbi & Rosh Yeshiva. In 1940 Rabbi Shneur Kotler escaped Europe to Palestine where he studied under the leading scholars of Jerusalem, among them his grandfather Rabbi Meltzer who had moved there previously.
In 1947, after World War II, Rabbi Shneur Kotler moved to Lakewood to join his father, who had brought his yeshiva there from Europe. Rabbi Shneur Kotler assumed the leadership of the yeshiva with his father's death in 1962.
Rabbi Shneur Kotler transformed Lakewood from a middling institution into a flagship center of excellence of the Orthodox yeshiva world. From a group of several hundred students, the yeshiva grew by 1981 to almost a thousand students. Rabbi Shneur Kotler sent out groups of married students, pioneers to establish kollels in major communities across America, from Philadelphia in the East to Los Angeles in the West. The members of these kollels would divide their time between studying Talmud and spreading the experience of Torah learning to the local Jewish populations. There are Lakewood satellite kollels operating in over thirty cities across North America.
Rabbi Shneur Kotler was active in many communal organizations and issues. He held leadership positions as a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudath Israel of America and was on the rabbinical boards of the Torah Umesorah National Society for Hebrew Day Schools and Chinuch Atzmai. Rabbi Kotler was also very active in helping Jewish refugees from Russia and Iran.
Rabbi Yosef Chaim Shneur Kotler died of an illness in 1982 at the age of sixty four. Vast throngs attended his funeral in America and later in Israel where he was interred at Har Menuchos near his illustrious father and grandfather.
The Rabbi Meir Baal Haneis Salant charity fund was very close to the heart of Rabbi Kotler and he is a signatory on the historic 1979 Kol Koreh (broadside) on behalf of Rabbi Meir Baal Haneis Salant, together with such Torah giants as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky, Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky The "Steipler", Rabbi Shloma Zalman Auerbach, Rabbi Elazar Simcha Wasserman, Rabbi Dovid Povarsky, Rabbi Yechiel Michel Feinstein, Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, Rabbi Shmuel Birnbaum, and many, many others. May their memory be a blessing to all.