The Jewish Press joins Klal Yisrael in mourning the death of Rabbi Herschel Schacter, paradigmatic pulpit leader, former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and adviser to President Nixon on the plight of Soviet Jews.
His heroic work as a Jewish chaplain at the Buchenwald concentration camp immediately following its liberation by the U.S. Third Army under General Patton drew the attention of the world. Rabbi Schacter remained at the camp for several months, caring for survivors. He led religious services at the infamous facility and contributed to the resettlement of survivors, including the transporting of nearly a thousand orphaned children to France. He discovered a seven-year-old boy in a barracks named Yisrael Meir Lau, who would grow up to be a chief rabbi of Israel and who presently serves as chief rabbi of Tel Aviv.
Rabbi Schacter was the charismatic spiritual leader of the Mosholu Jewish Center in the Bronx from 1947 to 1999 and played a significant role in what was a golden era for Jewish life in that borough. He was among the first – some reports say the very first – students to be ordained by the great gaon Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and later served as the director of rabbinic services at Yeshiva University and chairman of the Chaplaincy Commission of the Jewish Welfare Board.
A staunch advocate for Soviet Jews, he was the founding chairman of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry and led many missions around the world pleading their cause.
May his memory be a blessing.