Shock and sadness struck the Satmar community as news spread of an accident that claimed the lives of two of its prominent members, Reb Chaim Parnes, z”l, and Reb Yitzchok Rosenberg, z”l. The two were at a Miami-area beach when they were pulled into the water by a riptide and drowned. Their loss has sent shockwaves of distress through their kehillah, as well as Jewish communities at large.
Late Tuesday night, askanim were successful in getting the niftarim released from the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s office. A private plane was sent to fly them back to New York for their levayos.
Thousands are expected to take part in the levayos on Wednesday.
The levayah of Reb Yitzchok Rosenberg will be held at 9:45 a.m., at the Satmar beis medrash in Williamsburg, 13 Hooper St. Later, his levayah will continue to Kiryas Joel.
The levayah of Reb Chaim Parnes will be held at 10 a.m. at the Satmar beis medrash in Kiryas Joel, 12 Garfield Rd., Monroe.
Both niftarim will be buried in the Satmar cemetery in Kiryas Joel.
“Every single one of us is heartbroken by what happened,” said Rabbi Shalom Lazer Frankel, treasurer of the Satmar kehillah under the leadership of the Rebbe Harav Aharon Teitelbaum, shlita. “To lose two pillars of the community in one day is very hard to bear.”
According to local authorities, the two men were together with three friends at around 11:30 a.m. at a deserted beach near 140th Street and Collins Avenue. The group had gone swimming when a strong tide began to pull them further and further away from the shore. An off-duty policeman and a lifeguard attempted to resuscitate the two, but was unsuccessful.
The other three, Reb Anshel Hershkowitz, Reb Aharon Wertzberger and Reb Yitzchok Englander made it out of the water, baruch Hashem. Reb Anshel Hershkowitz was hospitalized briefly and released. Reb Yitzchok Englander is still at Miami’s Mount Sinai Hospital. He is in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery.
Reb Yitzchok, a celebrated philanthropist, served as rosh hakahal of the Satmar kehillah in Williamsburg under the leadership of the Rebbe Harav Aharon Teitelbaum, shlita, and had been involved in askanus for nearly 50 years. He was the driving force behind efforts to establish a “heichal haTorah” — a beis medrash set aside exclusively for learning Torah, where no minyanim are held — in each of Satmar’s shuls.
“Reb Yitzchok was the foundation of the whole community,” said Rabbi Frankel. “He was the first to jump into every community project and every one of the Rebbe’s projects.”
He was one of Satmar’s major donors, who played a central role in the building of dozens of yeshivos, shuls, girls’ schools, mikvaos and chessed projects. Aside from his work for Satmar, Reb Yitzchok regularly dispensed untold sums to lines of needy individuals who came to his door on a daily basis.
His successful businesses, Certified Lumber of Williamsburg, Boro Park Lumber and an array of other enterprises employed hundreds of members of the community. He built the popular Rose Castle Hall in Williamsburg, which he often offered free of charge for kehillah events.
Reb Chaim was a longtime, highly respected resident of Kiryas Joel and a direct descendant of the Rebbes of Sanz, Shinev and Stropkov. He worked as a dealer in New York’s Diamond Dealers Club.
“He was a very fine and ehrlicher person, who had a very good name at the club,” said a colleague who had worked with Reb Chaim for many years. “He was a real ben kedoshim and a talmid chacham.”
Last November, he was the victim of a robbery, also in Miami, while on a business trip. After being beaten and robbed of over $35,000 in diamonds, he calmly thanked Hashem for saving him from the incident, telling local media, “Money comes back… life doesn’t come back.”
Updated Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 3:52 am