Photo Credit: Mendy Hechtman / Flash 90
A memorial candle lit on a grave in an ancient cemetery in Tzefat (Safed.)

The funeral for Rabbi Chaim Yisroel HaLevi Belsky z’l, age 77, head of Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn, New York, was held Friday morning at the yeshiva.

Rabbi Belsky passed away late Thursday after a long illness.

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It was known from the start the crowd would be massive: “Parking in the area will be difficult, we encourage the use of mass transportation,” the yeshiva wrote in its announcement online.

Thousands poured into Brooklyn to pay their final respects to the rabbi, and thousands more joined them via a live stream set up by the yeshiva. Two teleconferences were arranged for those who preferred to participate via telephone.

The rabbi’s career spanned decades as head of the famed Yeshiva Torah Vodaath founded by his grandfather. He also served as head of a prestigious Rabbinical Court.

Rabbi Belsky received his semicha from Yeshiva Torah Vodaas in 1962, and from Hagaon HaRav Moshe Feinstein in 1965. He later studied in Beth Medrash Elyon as well. In 1967 he became the Rabbi of Camp Aguda, and in 1987, added a role as Senior Halachic Consultant for the Orthodox Union (OU).

The rabbi was also one of the first to write a letter of approbation for the now-defunct Jewish Association for Attention Deficit Disorder, (JAADD) a then-fledgling organization formed to help families of children and adults in the Jewish world affected by the condition, with and without hyperactivity. He held deep compassion and a broad understanding of the impact that ADHD had on a child in the yeshiva world, at a time when that world was largely unaware of the condition and such children were routinely rejected from schools and ejected from classrooms as a result, rather than referred for help.

Countless women and men desperate for help with intense marital problems also owe their final ability to resolve the matter successfully to Rabbi Belsky, whose negotiating skills often brought issues to a close when little else could.

“Boruch Dayan Emet,” wrote one woman on Facebook. “If not for this man I would not have gotten my Get. A true Tzaddik.”

The rabbi’s body was to be flown to Israel for interrment on Sunday, Jan 31.

Boruch Dayan HoEmes.

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