The Torah world was plunged into mourning Wednesday afternoon (Israel time) with the petirah of Hagaon Harav Dov Tzvi Karelenstein, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah, Yeshivas Grodna in Ashdod. The Rosh Yeshivah was 81 at his petirah. The Rosh Yeshivah had been ill and was hospitalized several times over the last months. He was niftar in the Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. His levayah departed the Grodna Yeshivah in Ashdod, and continued on to Yerushalayim, where the Rosh Yeshivah was buried on Har Hamenuchos, near his wife, Rebbetzin Pesiah, a”h, and his only son, Harav Chanoch, zt”l.
As per the will of the niftar, there were no hespedim.
Harav Dov Tzvi was born on 17 Tammuz 5694/1934, in Yerushalayim, to Harav Yerucham Fishel and Rebbetzin Ashirah Devorah Reichel. His maternal grandfather was Harav Menachem Mendel Porush, z”l. His family resided in the Shaarei Chessed neighborhood, where in his earliest youth the young Dov Tzvi merited to bask in the presence of the Gedolim who lived in the area.
Later, the family moved to Bnei Brak where Rav Yeruchem Fishel had accepted the position of menhale of the Talmud Torah Rabi Akiva in the Zichron Meir neighborhood. The niftar soon forged a very close relationship with the Chazon Ish, with whom he learned b’chavrusa for four years.
For the rest of his life he was makpid to follow all the rulings and teachings of the Chazon Ish, both in halachah and in hashkafah.
He later joined the Ponevezh Yeshivah, and became a close talmid of the Rosh Yeshivah, Hagaon Harav Elazar Menachem Shach, zt”l, a relationship that continued to flourish for decades to come.
When he became of age, Harav Dov Tzvi married Rebbetzin Pesiah, the daughter of Harav Shmuel Baruch Werner, zt”l, who served as a Dayan in Tel Aviv. In 5726/1966, he was appointed by Harav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, the Ponevezher Rav, to serve as Rosh Yeshivah in the newly formed Grodna Yeshivah in Ashdod. He served as Rosh Yeshivah until his petirah, for close to fifty years, teaching multitudes of talmidim.
He also led numerous battles for the sanctity of the city of Ashdod. When he was told that a particular effort he was waging might harm the interests of the yeshivah, he responded by paraphrasing the Brisker Rav, “before I am a Rosh Yeshivah, I am a Yid. Therefore, I can’t take such calculations into account.”
Twenty years ago, Rebbetzin Pesiah was killed in a tragic car accident in Ashdod. Harav Dov Tzvi suffered yet another tragedy several years later, with the petirah of his only son, Harav Chanoch, who was Rosh Yeshivah in Yeshivas Pressburg in Yerushalayim, at the age of forty-two. He is survived by his daughters, Rebbetzin Gittel Shmide, wife of Harav Moshe Shmide, who is a Rosh Yeshivah in Grodna; Rebbetzin Dinah Ettinger, wife of Harav Baruch Mordechai Ettinger, Rosh Yeshivah, Knesses Yechezkel, Elad; and Rebbetzin Miriam Eizenthal, wife of Harav Ehud Eizenthal, Rosh Kollel, Zichron Yosef.