Rabbi Reuven Tzvi Yehuda (Hershel) Feigelstock, z”l, a longtime educator and shliach in Montreal, passed away on Wednesday, 9 Kislev, at the age of 98.
Rabbi Feigelstock grew up in Vienna in the Orthodox Jewish community, which was very traditional and very learned — but decidedly non-chassidic — following the traditions of the Chasam Sofer, zt”l, of whom he was a descendant, he told Chabad.org.
His father was a learned man — a businessman who made sure to teach Torah every morning and every evening, and who lectured for several hours every Shabbos.
There was just one Jewish school in Vienna at the time, but it was similar to a public school in many respects, so when his father had the means, he pulled Hershel and his brother out of school and had them privately tutored.
During World War II, his family escaped to Budapest. His parents sent him and his brother to England, where they studied in a yeshivah with other refugees.
In 1940, they were arrested and placed in an internment camp, since as Austrian nationals they were viewed as enemies. Eventually, they were transferred to camps in Canada and ultimately released.
His first stop was at the newly established Chabad yeshivah in Montreal, “where we were warmly welcomed by the nine young war refugees who had recently come to Canada from Poland by way of Japan and China,” he told Chabad.org.
After spending a year in Toronto, Rabbi Feigelstock returned to Montreal, where he studied under Harav Mendel Zaks, the son-in-law of the Chofetz Chaim, zt”l.
“I had a chassidic soul, and was drawn to the Chabad yeshivah and their inspired way of serving G‑d. By 1943, I became a student in the Chabad yeshivah in Montreal. There were now 10 of us — the nine Polish boys, who were in their early 20s, and me, barely 20 years old,” he said.
In 1949 he married his wife Sara Esther Feigelstock (nee Winter), and they were privileged to have the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, serve as mesader kiddushin at their wedding.
They served as shluchim in Montreal for over 40 years.
Rabbi Feigelstock began teaching at Tomchei Temimim, the Lubavitch yeshivah in Montreal, in 1945. In 1953 he became principal of the yeshivah.
Rabbi Feigelstock told how at one point, dealing with all the difficult issues of running a school became too hard for him, and there came a time when he felt that he couldn’t continue as principal.
He traveled to New York for a late night meeting with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and told the Rebbe of his plan. When the Rebbe asked who would be taking over his position, he only shrugged, since he had no answer.
“The Rebbe gave me a big smile and said, ‘My father-in-law, the previous Rebbe, once said that the hour following midnight is a silly hour. But such silliness I never imagined! If I would have known why you wanted to see me, I wouldn’t have given permission. Go in good health, carry on and be successful!’” Rabbi Feigelstock related.
He did not leave the position, and ended up serving as principal for over 40 years until his retirement in 1993.
He is survived by his children, Rabbi Yossi Feigelstock – Buenos Aires, Argentina, Shternie Greisman – Crown Heights, Rivky Teitelbaum – Miami, Avrohom Feigelstock – Vancouver, Chaya Medalie – Johannesburg, Shneur Zalman Feigelstock – Montreal, Sholom Ber Feigelstock – Los Angeles, Devorah Leah Davidson – Pittsburgh, Alter Yehoshua Feigelstock – Los Angeles; grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He was predeceased by his wife, Mrs. Sara Feigelstock, a”h, in 2016, and his son Menachem Mendel Feigelstock, z”l, in 2008.
The levayah will take place Thursday, passing by 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights at 10 a.m., and burial will be at the Montefiore Cemetery at 11 a.m.
Yehi zichro baruch.