Rabbi Dr. Moshe Weiss passed away in his home in Jerusalem on Monday June 8,
Born in Oswiecim, Poland, which later became known as Auschwitz, he arrived in the U.S. with his family before World War II. He received his semicha from Yeshiva University in 1951 and went on to become one of the most prominent Religious Zionist leaders in America, serving as vice president of Hapoel Hamizrachi and for many years writing a weekly column for The Jewish Press.
Rabbi Weiss was the author of 13 books, including From Oswiecim to Auschwitz, which was based on his many visits to Poland after the Holocaust; a scholarly study of the Rushino commentary on the Torah in four volumes; and A Brief History of the Jewish People.
Rabbi Weiss was predeceased by his wife, the former Miriam Borenstein of Brownsville, Brooklyn. He is survived by his children Rabbi Avi Weiss, Rabbi Mordechai Weiss, Tova Reich, Sara Tov, and Dr. David Weiss, as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Rabbi Weiss was buried in Netanya alongside his wife. Shiva is being observed at his home, 8 Keren Kayemet St., apartment 5, Jerusalem.
In a recent article in The Jewish Press, Rabbi Avi Weiss wrote of his father:
[He] was one of the first Jews to revisit Poland after the Shoah, effectively pioneering a movement he characterized as “the act of return,” which has become a widespread Jewish rite of passage in our time. He was devastated by what he saw, recording and later collecting his experiences and impressions in his 1995 book, From Oswiecim to Auschwitz: Poland Revisited, which has since become a classic still used by visitors returning to the centers of Jewish life that had existed before the Shoah.In 1959, as he came to the end of his first trip back to Poland, my father, overcome by what he saw and seeking a measure of comfort and healing, changed his travel plans. Rather than return directly to the U.S. he visited Israel for the first time. It was in Israel that he composed a powerful poem that closes his book.
In his poem, my father pictures himself standing on a hill in the Auschwitz death camp overlooking the barracks, surrounded by white snow, ash, and bone. Recalling the question of the prophet Ezekiel, my father also asks, “Can these bones live?” As if in a vision, there is a great noise and shaking. Bones come together with bones, covered by sinew and flesh and skin. Breath enters them and they live. They stand up on their feet, come out of their graves, and are brought to the land of Israel.
The scene then shifts from darkness to light, death to life. My father now finds himself standing on a mountaintop in Jerusalem. Below, the vast host of the Jewish people is spread out – in schoolrooms, cities, factories, villages – in peace, and yes, also in battle. My father concludes his poem with this prayer: “God, remember the souls of the departed, and guard over the resurrected children of Israel in the land of Israel.”