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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Kos’

Star-K’s Kashrus Seminar To Benefit Polish Jewry

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

       Prior to the outbreak of World War II, Poland contained the second largest Jewish community in the world, with nearly 3.5 million Jews. All that changed following Nazi Germany’s invasion of the country in 1939. Of the scant 11 percent (369,000) of the Polish Jewish population who survived the death camps, many fled Poland in reaction to anti-Semitic violence or repression under Communism. Those who stayed often turned their backs on Yiddishkeit. Now that Polish Jews are feeling a new sense of tolerance and security in their post-Cold War democracy, an increasing number are returning to their Jewish roots, which in many cases have only recently been discovered.


         Rabbi Mati Kos is the first known religious person in his family in the past 200 years. The 35-year-old native of Warsaw had the first public post-World War II bar mitzvah in Poland. To further discover his Jewish roots, he left his home to attend Yeshiva Ohr Somayach in Monsey, New York. He then worked as the director of recruitment for Yeshiva Aish HaTorah in Passaic, New Jersey. Rabbi Kos recently accepted a pulpit position in Warsaw after having decided to give back to his community.


         Rabbi Kos was one of 28 attendees present at the intensive annual kashrus training seminar held in Baltimore’s Star-K offices from July 9 through July 12. He joined fellow rabbanim, kashrus administrators, and aspiring smicha students considering careers in rabbonis, kiruv, and kashrus in expanding their hands-on knowledge of kashrus.


        Classroom concepts came to life for the diverse group of participants who had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at a luxury hotel’s kosher kitchen in downtown Baltimore, take tours of a local slaughterhouse, flavor factory, confectionary, bakery, restaurant, and butcher shop; and check for bugs and aphids hiding in vegetables.


         “Because I am going back to Poland, I need as much training as I can get,” admitted Rabbi Kos. “I wanted to get it from a big kashrus organization with great rabbonim, so it would be on a higher professional level. I needed to learn how to put a system in place from an organization that knows the ins and outs of kashrus. The Star-K program is geared to small communities like Warsaw.”


         Rabbi Kos was impressed with the fact that Star-K’s program covers all the angles. “It teaches kashrus at the micro-level, from the kashering of the kitchen in your house, to teaching about kashrus on the national and international business level,” remarked Rabbi Kos. “My only criticism of the program is that it is too short,” he chuckled. “I hope to put into practice what I’ve learned from the seminar and maintain close ties with Star-K, tapping into its vast resources.”


         Rabbi Zvi Goldberg, Star-K kashrus administrator, and coordinator of the seminar attributes the success of this program to a mutual benefit relationship. “I believe it is advantageous for both groups, the participants and the Star-K staff,” remarked Rabbi Goldberg. “The participants gain knowledge of the inner workings of kashrus and the staff is energized by the opportunity to teach kashrus to a highly motivated group.”

Mazal Tov, Rabbi Mattisyahu Kos

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

Chag Hasmicha is a celebration honoring newly ordained rabbis. This past week saw a number of yeshivas celebrating the event, including Yeshiva University with 180 new rabbis. While every new ordination is worthy of note, one Chag Hasmicha in a small yeshiva in Monsey, N.Y., stands out.

Rabbi Mattisyahu Kos has a special calling to the rabbinate. He comes from a place most people think of as being empty of Jews, or, if any are there, a place they have no business living.

Rabbi Mattisyahu Kos was born in post-Holocaust Poland under the Communist regime, at a time when religious practice was looked down upon and Judaism was a culture more then a religion. Most Jews hid or even denied their religion for fear of anti-Semitism.

In 1989, with the fall of communism in Poland, the small Jewish community started to rebound. It hired Rabbi Pinchas Joskowitch, a Gerer chasid from Jerusalem and a survivor of Auschwitz, as the first chief rabbi of Poland since the war. He was active until his retirement, when Rabbi Michael Schudrich took over.

While Rabbi Joskowitch worked with the aging community, Rabbi Schudrich worked in developing the younger generation’s religious connection through kiruv, reaching out to the Jews born after the Shoah who did not know what it was to be Jewish. One of his early students was Matti Kos, whose first encounter with Torah Judaism was through the Lauder Foundation educational programs led by Rabbi Schudrich.

“Matti was an amazing young man,” Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser said at the convocation. “He was only a young man when I first met him, and his zeal and enthusiasm for Judaism left a great impression on me. I could tell then that he was special.”

Matti became an integral part of the fledging community, and he was honored by being the first one to celebrate a bar mitzvah in post-Shoah Poland.

He continued to be active in the community and eventually started working with the Lauder Foundation in setting up the summer learning retreats and other educational programs alongside his mentors, Rabbi Yonah Bookstein and Rabbi Joseph Kanofsky.

It was four and a half years ago that Matti decided to come to America to get a Torah education not available in Poland. He joined Yeshiva Ohr Sameach on a full scholarship and immersed himself fully in the depths of Torah learning.

Ohr Sameach, located in Monsey, is well known as a baal teshuvah yeshiva that reaches out to disenfranchised Jews around the world to instill in them a love of learning and the true Jewish life. “The student body,” one of its rabbis said, “can compete with the UN in its diversity. We have students from Israel, America, Argentina, South Africa, Germany and Poland, with most of the graduating class returning to their countries of origin to serve in the scattered Jewish communities.”

Yeshiva Ohr Sameach was uniquely suited to Matti, as he is known to his fellow students. He joined the other talmidim in their studies and as he progressed into the field of rabbinic studies he learned to transform the techniques of learning as a baal teshuvah into those needed for the teaching methods of an outreach rabbi.

Rabbi Schudrich has always said that he can’t wait for Poland to have a home-grown rabbi again. “It used to be, before the Shoah, that Poland was the source for most of the rabbis in the world. But since the Shoah every rabbi serving in Poland has had to be imported. from somewhere else.

“A rabbi born in modern day Poland has a deeper understanding of the needs, attributes shortcomings and even the language of the community than any imported rabbi can ever achieve. With the smicha of Rabbi Kos, Poland can again lay claim to a home grown rabbi,” he said.

At the Chag Hasmicha, Rabbi Kos had the largest delegation of guests, with his family coming from Poland and others coming from New York, Philadelphia, California and Canada. During the interview after the ceremony there was a constant stream of his fellow students as well as the rabbis of the yeshiva coming over to say how special a person Rabbi Kos is and how great a future they see for him.

Matti Kos, even on this proudest of days, was full of humility. He said that he is a product of The Ronald S. Foundation, without which there would be no Judaism in Poland today, as everybody else had abandoned them. He hopes in the future to work closely with the Lauder Foundation in furthering and enriching Jewish life in Poland.

Rabbi Chaskel Besser, who is considered by many as the father figure and true chief rabbi for the community in Poland, was especially proud of one of his protégé‘s achieving smicha. He had witnessed the heights of pre-Shoah Poland, the depths of the Holocaust and the darkness of the Communist era, and now is proud to see the fruits of his labors. He wished Rabbi Kos much mazel and bracha.

In the immediate future, Rabbi Kos will be continuing his studies and serving as an intern with Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser in Brooklyn to get practical experience in leading a Jewish community.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/mazal-tov-rabbi-mattisyahu-kos/2006/03/29/

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