Rabbi Gershon Tennenbaum, z”l

A partial view of the crowd at the levayah of Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum at his shul, Khal Bnei Israel in the Linden Heights section of Brooklyn.
A partial view of the crowd at the levayah of Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum at his shul, Khal Bnei Israel. (JDN)

The Boro Park community is mourning the sudden petirah of Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, z”l, 66, Rav of Khal Bnei Israel in the Linden Heights neighborhood. Rabbi Tannenbaum served as director of the Igud Harabbanim, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, and was a long-time columnist for the Jewish Press and later the Five Towns Jewish Times.

“He was a man of chessed who worried about everyone except himself,” said Rabbi Yaakov Klass, who worked with the niftar for years, both at the Jewish Press and at Igud Harabbanim. “He was a very well-spoken individual who knew how to represent the Rabbinate and the Torah and understood the importance of working to get different segments of the frum world on the same page.”

In the variety of roles that he filled, Rabbi Tannenbaum dedicated himself to doing whatever he could for the benefit of both individuals and the community.

At Igud Harabbanim he was committed to ensuring that Rabbanim could support their families with dignity and worked hard to secure additional positions, such as chaplaincies, for many shul Rabbis.

Given Khal Bnei Israel’s close proximity to Maimonides Hospital, he also made great efforts to see that staff and family of patients would feel welcome and comfortable in the shul. Together with ybl”c his wife, Mrs. Sarah Tannenbaum, shetichyeh, he welcomed to their home a constant flow of guests, mostly those who needed a place to stay close to the hospital.

Rabbi Tannenbaum was born in 1949 in a DP camp. His parents, Reb Moshe Yaakov, z”l, and Mrs. Nana, a”h, Tannenbaum, were originally from Hungary, and the family was descended from generations of distinguished Rabbanim. The family immigrated to America and settled in Boro Park. Young Gershon attended Yeshiva Chasan Sofer before going on to study in various yeshivos in Eretz Yisrael.

After his marriage, Rabbi Tannenbaum returned to Boro Park, where he founded and led a yeshivah for several years. Several decades ago he became involved in Igud Harabbanim. In his long tenure as its executive director, he strove to make the organization a vibrant forum for the discussion of important issues facing the contemporary American Rabbinate. Most recently, he was heavily involved in dealing with the increasingly complex halachic ramifications of “end of life” issues.

“He had a vision of a vibrant, forward-looking Yiddishkeit in America without giving in one iota on what the Torah demands,” said Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, vice president of Igud Harabbanim. “No matter how big or small of a congregation a Rabbi was coming from, he greeted each member with a big smile and a sense of happiness, encouraging their participation.”

In the mid-1990s he assumed leadership of Khal Bnei Israel. As a Rav, he sought to meet the various needs of his congregants, dependably greeting them with his signature warm smile and listening ear.

A gifted writer, Rabbi Tannenbaum both informed his readers and was marbitz Torah in print for decades, notably in both the Jewish Press and the Five Towns Jewish Times. He authored a regular column on Daf Hayomi and “My Machberes,” which reported on news in the Torah world and chassidic courts.

The levayah was held Wednesday at Khal Bnei Israel.

Rabbi Tannenbaum is survived by his wife, Mrs. Sarah Tannenbaum; sister, Mrs. Judy Kern; sons, Reb Chaim and Reb Yitzchok Dov; daughters, Mrs. Bracha Holczer and Mrs. Malky Haimoff, as well as many grandchildren.

Yehi zichro baruch.

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