Members of the Boro Park community were saddened to learn of the petirah of Harav Yaakov Thumim, zt”l, Altshtadter Rav, over Chol Hamoed Pesach. Harav Thumim, Rav of the Nachlas Yaakov Alshtadt shul on 52nd Street between 15th and 16th Avenues, was niftar at the age of 94, after a life devoted to Torah, avodah and gemilus chassadim.
Harav Thumim was born in Vienna, Austria, on 13 Cheshvan, 5682 (1921), to Harav Pinchos Yosef Thumim, and his wife, Rebbetzin Chaya Yocheved (nee Jeruchem). He was named after Rav Yaakov M’Lisa, zt”l, the Nesivos Hamishpat, of whom he was twice a descendant.
His parents had previously lived in the Galician town of Stary Sambor (modern-day Staryi Sambir, Ukraine), which was known in Yiddish as “Altshtadt,” or “Old City.” During World War I, they fled to Vienna along with Rebbetzin Chaya Yocheved’s father, Harav Chaim Yitzchak Jeruchem, zy”a, the Altshtadter Rav, and the entire Jeruchem family. Rav Yaakov revered his grandfather, who would be the major influence on his life.
At the outset of World War II, Rav Yaakov, along with his mother and brother, miraculously escaped via Switzerland, and arrived in America in 1941. His father also survived the war, by escaping to Casablanca, Morocco.
Several weeks after arriving in America, Rav Yaakov Thumim, then 20 years old, spent Simchas Torah in New York with the Bostoner Rebbe, Harav Pinchas Dovid Horowitz, zt”l.
Rav Yaakov went to learn in Yeshiva Torah Vodaas, under the legendary Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Shlomo Heiman, zt”l. He was always careful to keep the chassidishe mesorah he had learned from his sainted grandfather.
In 1946, Rav Yaakov married, tbl”c, Matil Feiga Horowitz, daughter of the Bostoner Rebbe. The shidduch was suggested by Harav Levi Yitzchak Horowitz, brother of the kallah and classmate of Rav Yaakov at Torah Vodaas.
After his marriage, Rav Yaakov was a maggid shiur in Torah Vodaas, before going into business and becoming a diamond wholesaler.
Harav Thumim served as Rav of a number of shuls in New York, before opening Nachlas Yaakov Alshtadt 32 years ago. The shul is named after his sainted ancestors, Rav Yaakov M’Lisa and the Altshtadter Rav.
Rav Thumim was a tremendous tomech Torah and ba’al tzedakah. He gave a Daf Yomi shiur in the shul, and opened and supported Kollel Birchas Yitzchak, a night kollel – one of the first of its kind.
His oldest child, Harav Dovid Thumim, z”l, a great talmid chacham, was tragically niftar in 1999, at the age of 52.
Rav Yaakov was niftar last Wednesday night, the final night of Chol Hamoed. There were levayos on Chol Hamoed in Lakewood and Boro Park, then in Yerushalayim on Sunday, before Rav Yaakov was laid to rest on Har Hazeisim.
Rav Yaakov is survived by, ybl”c, his younger brother Alfred (Yitzchak) Thumim; his wife, Rebbetzin Matil Feiga; and their four daughters: Rebbetzin Rochel Dina Lieberman, Rebbetzin Esther Gitel Krishevsky and Rebbetzin Shayna Gruber of Lakewood, and Mrs. Miriam Mund of Boro Park; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all bnei Torah.
Yehi zichro baruch.