web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



My Father, Dayan Grunfeld

Dayan Grunfeld

Dayan Grunfeld

Share Button

When my father inquired whether the religious needs of the Jewish children in the camp were in fact being attended to, the reply was that there was not a single Jewish child in the camp. My father was skeptical. He knew that Jewish children had survived the war by hiding in the houses of gentiles who had risked their lives to save them, and he dared to hope that at least a few Jewish children were among the thousand.

As my father walked through the camp he began to recite aloud “Shema Yisrael” and “Hamalach Hagoel.” All at once he was surrounded by hordes of little children. “Mama, Mama,” they cried. “Take us home to Mama.”

It was this experience that underlined for him the magnitude of the problem and so he went on to establish the Jewish War Orphans Commission, which led to an unrelenting campaign before the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations for the rescue of Jewish war orphans and their return to Jewry.

* * * * * The strain of the war years took its toll.

One Shabbat afternoon in 1954, at the age of seven, I was walking home from shul hand in hand with my father when he suddenly collapsed in the road. He had suffered a major heart attack.

He returned from the hospital six months later, gray and frail. When I asked him whether he would ever go swimming with me again at the seaside, I was taken from his side and swiftly ushered out of the room.

But my father’s extraordinary journey was by no means over.

A number of years after my father’s recovery, he told those present at his 60th birthday party that one night in the hospital he had received a “visit” from Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, who told him that he would continue to live if he vowed to devote the rest of his life to disseminating Rav Hirsch’s writings.

It was at that party that my father vowed to do so.

From his small study overlooking the high street ensued a stream of his own publications on the laws of Shabbat, kashrut and Jewish inheritance as well as translations of the major works of Samson Raphael Hirsch that revolutionized Torah education for English-speaking Jews.

The pristine English style and syntax of this German refugee, the clarity of thought of the Torah scholar, the consummate draftsmanship of the lawyer and the universal reach of the philosopher all combined to produce these eternal classics of Judaism with which the name Dayan Grunfeld will forever be synonymous.

According to the rosh yeshiva Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, our great rabbis are remembered not only for their scholarly skill but also for their unforgettable acts of kindness. One day there was a knock on the door of our house in London. Outside, a man stood shivering in the doorway. My father saw that he did not have a coat.

My father had two coats. One was worn throughout the week and the other was worn only on Shabbat.

“Go upstairs,” my father said to me and bring down my Shabbat coat.”

I brought him the coat and he handed it to the man who took it and beat a hasty retreat.

Two years later, as I was walking with my father to shul, he suddenly took hold of my arm and steered me to the other side of the street.

I did not understand why. He was a man of discipline and habit and he favored that side of the street on his way to shul. Only then, however, did I catch sight of the man wearing my father’s coat, walking slowly, head down, on my father’s favored side of the road.

* * * * * Rosh Hashanah 1975 was a happy time. Our newborn son, my father’s grandson, was due to have his brit the next day.

My father had visited him and Daniela in the hospital a few days earlier and had stood over his hospital crib and blessed him.

During the Rosh Hashanah meal my sister asked if anyone knew what the baby’s name would be. My father was unusually curt. “Let not discuss it,” he said.

Share Button

About the Author: Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

3 Responses to “My Father, Dayan Grunfeld”

  1. Janet Rosenbaum-Joshua says:

    I just noticed that there is no Wikipedia page for Dayan Grunfeld. Someone should change this. I put in the bare bones info here, but someone who knows more should fill it in and submit for consideration. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:Articles_for_creation/Isidore_Grunfeld

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Raphael Grunfeld
Grunfeld-Raphael-NEW

A few background principles regarding the prohibitions of chametz mixtures on Pesach may provide some shopping guidance.

Grunfeld-Raphael-NEW

The prohibition of chametz on Pesach means that chametz may not be eaten or enjoyed, may not be owned or possessed, and must be removed from one’s premises.

Whether a month is chaser or maleh makes a crucial difference to our Jewish lives. If, for example, one mistakenly believed the month of Elul was maleh when in fact it was chaser, one might find oneself eating on Yom Kippur and fasting on a weekday. If one mistakenly believed the month of Adar was maleh when in fact it was chaser, one might find oneself eating bread on Pesach.

The lulav symbolizes the backbone, the etrog, the heart, the hadas the eyes, and the arava the lips moving in the service of God.

Although the Torah only commands us to pick up the arba minim, the rabbis require that we wave them in all four directions of the compass as well as upward and downward.

Is a shomer aveidah considered a shomer chinam or a shomer sachar?

The equivalent of the “OU” kashrut certification in England is that of the London Beit Din. There is also a competing kashrut certification called Kedassia. Those who eat Kedassia do not eat Beit Din.

When we are on the move in life, exiled from place to place, we turn to God, our Partner, for the protection of His cloud. When we are given the luxury of settling down, God turns to us, His partner, for the protection of our walls.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/my-father-dayan-grunfeld/2012/09/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: