Klal Yisrael was anguished to hear the news Friday, 27 Tammuz, of the passing of one of the tzaddikim of the generation, the Sanz-Zhviller Rebbe of Union City, New Jersey, Harav Shlomo Goldman, zt”l. The Rebbe was the son of Harav Mordechai of Zhvill, zt”l, author of Yekara Demalka, and the oldest son-in-law of the Klausenberger Rebbe, zt”l, the Shefa Chaim.
The news was met with shock and grief as it spread throughout the Jewish world.
The Rebbe was descended from the holy tzaddikim of the Zvhiller dynasty, and was a direct descendant of Harav Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov, zy”a, a talmid of the Baal Shem Tov and the Mezeritcher Maggid.
The son of the Maggid of Zlotchov was Harav Moshe Goldman, the founder of the Zhviller dynasty. After his passing, he was succeeded by his son, Harav Yechiel Michel, zy”a, and the scepter of leadership then passed to his son, Harav Mordechai, zy”a.
Upon Rav Mordechai’s passing, he was succeeded by his son Rav Shlomo, zy”a, known as Rav Shlom’ke of Zhvill. He passed away on 26 Iyar 5705, and the mantle of leadership of the Zhviller chassidus was passed to his son, Rav Gedalyah Moshe.
Rav Gedalyah Moshe was summoned to the Heavenly Court a mere five years later, and he was succeeded by his son Rav Mordechai, who passed away on 28 Shevat 5739.
On Shabbos Hagadol, 8 Nisan, 5707, there was great joy in the home of the Zhviller Rebbe, Rav Mordechai, upon the birth of his son, Harav Shlomo, zt”l, named for his grandfather Rav Shlomke of Zhvill.
Young Shlomo was raised in a home that was a bastion of Torah and chassidus, with his brothers, the Zhviller Rebbes, Harav Avraham, zt”l (father of, ybl”c, the Zhviller Rebbe, shlita); Harav Yosef, zt”l, of Yerushalayim; Harav Yaakov Levi, zt”l, Rav of Zhviller Chassidim in Bnei Brak; Harav Dovid, shlita, Rav of Zhviller Chassidim in Bnei Brak; Harav Shmuel, shlita, a Rav in New Square, New York; and Harav Yisrael of Yerushalayim.
Already in his childhood, it became apparent that he was destined for greatness. He immersed himself in his learning all the time, and he was the apple of the eye of his family and his rebbeim. As a child he studied in Talmud Torah and Yeshivas Meah Shearim. After his bar mitzvah he began learning in Yeshivas Zhvill, under the tutelage of his father, where he became one of the yeshivah’s outstanding talmidim.
At the end of 5724/1964, he began to learn in the Klausenberger Mesivta in Kiryat Sanz, Netanya, under the leadership of the Klausenberger Rebbe, zy”a. He soon became known as one of the iluyim of the yeshivah, and a close talmid of the Klausenberger Rebbe, zy”a. His peers from those years relate that he would spend most of the day learning with great diligence. He was also a paragon of yiras Shamayim and sterling middos, and was beloved by all.
The Klausenberger Rebbe selected him as a chassan for his oldest daughter, Rebbetzin Miriam Leah shetichyeh. The shidduch was a source of great joy as the two dynasties came together; the Klausenberger Rebbe had been though the Holocaust and lost his whole family, and he was now able to marry off his oldest child from his newly established family.
The engagement took place on Rosh Chodesh Adar II 5727 and the wedding took place in Kiryat Sanz, Netanya, on 13 Elul of that year. Masses came to take part in the simchah of the two dynasties. The Rebbe, zy”a, in his drashos at the time, frequently spoke about the tremendous joy he felt at having the merit to bring into his home a chassan who was such an erudite talmid chacham, iluy, and gaon in Torah and middos.
After his marriage, Rav Shlomo lived in Kiryat Sanz. His father-in-law appointed him to head the kollel there, and under his leadership, the kollel grew and thrived. He also began to help his father-in-law carry the spiritual burden of the mosdos of the chassidus.
During these years, his diligence intensified, and he became a role model and guide to the many young avreichim who learned Torah and chassidus from him. It was said that the literal meaning of “avreich” — av b’chochmah v’ rach b’shanim — a father in wisdom and tender in years — applied to him perfectly.
In 5625/1965, the Klausenberger Rebbe decided to establish a community in Union City, New Jersey, somewhat away from the bigger cities. The objective was to establish a small Jewish village in which life would be conducted in purity and holiness.
Under the Rebbe’s instruction, a large building that had formerly served as a Jewish community center was purchased, along with several nearby structures. After adapting the building as necessary, in 5728, the Klausenberger Rebbe moved his yeshivah in America to its new home in Union City. From wherever he was, the Rebbe took a close interest in every detail relating to the yeshivah.
In the winter of 5729, the community in Union City was established as a place of Torah and chassidus, and it began to thrive. A kollel opened and, from time to time, the Klausenberger Rebbe would come from Eretz Yisrael to give chizuk to the young men and deliver shiurim. In time, the community and the yeshivah grew steadily.
At the beginning of 5731/1971, the Klausenberger Rebbe came for a one-month visit to Union City. When he departed, he appointed his eldest son-in-law, Harav Shlomo Goldman, to remain in the city and serve as Rosh Yeshivah.
The arrival of the Rebbe’s son-in-law infused Union City with life. Each day, he delivered shiurim to the bachurim, who basked in their deep content and clear proficiency. Under his guidance, the yeshivah expanded, and the Rebbe kept up constant contact with his father-in-law, doing nothing without this approval.
The Rebbe remained in this position for more than 45 years, during which time he taught thousands of students who became erudite talmidei chachamim.
Over the years, the community expanded as well. The Sanz-Zhviller Rebbe served as the Mara d’Asra and he guided the community and its mosdos. Today, it consists of a yeshivah, a Kollel Shas, a kollel avreichim, a cheder, a girls’ school called Ohel Yaakov, and more, which were all under the leadership of the Rebbe, zt”l.
Upon the passing of the Klausenberger Rebbe, zy”a, on 9 Tammuz 5754, the of Sanz-Zhviller Rebbe continued his father-in-law’s path of guiding the community, teaching Torah, conducting tefillos and tischen, and providing advice and brachos for his followers.
His home in Union City became a locus for people seeking advice and counsel. His holy brachos were the essence of “the tzaddik decrees and Hashem fulfills.” Many saw great yeshuos after he blessed them. Anyone who came to his home was greeted with warmth and love. Each member of the community, especially, felt like the Rebbe’s own child.
In addition to spiritual leadership, the Rebbe undertook to raise funds to support the community’s mosdos in Union City, and would travel extensively toward this end.
As the eldest son-in-law, after his father-in-law’s passing he was looked upon as the patriarch of the family. Together with his Rebbetzin, shetichyeh, they took care of all the needs of the elder Klausenberger Rebbetzin, shetichyeh, who lived with them throughout the years.
More than 10 years ago, the Rebbe fell ill and lost almost all use of his vocal cords. Still, he continued to deliver his drashos with mesirus nefesh, and led his flock faithfully.
During those years, he also established a beis medrash in Ramat Shlomo, Yerushalayim, and from time to time he would visit the community. He had plans to permanently move to the city of his birth.
Despite his weakness in recent years, he was constantly busy with Torah and tefillah. He was the embodiment of the passuk, “Lulei sorasecha sha’ashuai as avadeti b’anyi.” Sadly, he never had children, and he found solace in learning the holy Torah.
He recently fell ill again and was hospitalized. His condition seemed to improve somewhat in recent days, and he was discharged to his home in Union City. But things took a sudden turn for the worse late Thursday night and on Friday morning, the Rebbe was niftar.
The levayah was held on Erev Shabbos at the central beis medrash in Union City. Thousands packed the streets on what was an exceptionally hot and humid day to give kavod achron to the Rebbe.
The Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe spoke at great length in his hesped about the niftar’s mesirus nefesh to the Shefa Chaim zy”a, especially during his prolonged illness during his last years. He also said that the Zviller Rebbe had led the kehillah of Union City just as the Shefa Chaim would have wanted, living up to the responsibility that was placed upon him when he was appointed as the community’s manhig.
Harav Shaul Yehudah Prizant, a brother-in-law of the niftar who has served for many years as Dayan in Union City, spoke of the Rebbe’s dedication to preserving Union City as a place where Yidden could learn Torah and serve Hashem with kedushah and taharah, putting aside all personal considerations that yiddisher kinder could grow up in such an atmosphere.
Harav Lazer Goldman, a nephew of the Rebbe, delivered a particularly emotional hesped recalling his uncle’s closeness and devotion to his extended family, saying that he was always ready with a sympathetic ear for their problems and happy to join in their simchos.
Other maspidim included other family members as well as Reb Leibish Shwartz, the Rebbe’s long-time gabbai and Reb Meir Weiss, the Rosh Hakhal of Union City, who announced the Harav Prizant will assume leadership of the kehillah as rav.
On Motzei Shabbos, the mittah was flown to Eretz Yisrael. A large levayah took place Sunday afternoon, proceeding from the Klausenberger Beis Medrash in Yerushalayim, past the Zhviller Beis Medrash, to Har Hazeisim, where he was buried beside his holy forebears.
Yehi zichro baruch.