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Harry Herskowitz School, built in 1962, home to the Torah Vodaas Mesivta

Yeshiva Torah Vodaas (or Mesivta Torah Vodaas) is a yeshiva in the Kensington neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.



The yeshiva was conceived in 1917 by friends Binyomin Wilhelm and Louis Dershowitz to provide a yeshiva education centering on traditional Jewish sacred texts to the children of families then moving from the Lower East Side to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. The two friends contacted prominent local Rabbi Zev Gold of Congregation Beth Jacob Anshe Sholom [1][2] and together they formed a board and established the yeshiva in Williamsburg as an elementary school. The Yeshiva later moved to 452 and 425 East 9th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11218, where it is located today. Rabbi Gold was elected as the yeshiva's first president; he suggested the name Torah Vodaas after the yeshiva founded in Lida in 1905 by Rabbi Yitzchak Yaacov Reines, which combined secular studies with Jewish studies and traditional Talmud study.[3] During this first period in the yeshiva's history, all classes were taught in Hebrew.[4]

The founding members of the yeshiva soon offered the principalship of the institution to Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, who headed the yeshiva from 1922 to 1948. Under Mendlowitz's leadership, a mesivta (yeshiva high school) was opened in 1926.[5] Later he opened a Yeshiva Gedola as well. The yeshiva was modeled after those in Europe, with religious studies in Yiddish and Talmud taught in the Hungarian style of the European yeshivas.

Rabbi Dovid Leibovitz, a notable torah scholar from Europe was brought in to head the yeshiva's beit midrash (study hall) in 1929 but left after only four years to start his own yeshiva after personal conflicts with Rabbi Mendlowitz. Two years later, in 1935, Rabbi Shlomo Heiman became rosh yeshiva (head of the yeshiva), a position he held until his death in 1944.[6]

When Rabbi Mendlowitz's died in 1948, he entrusted the yeshiva to Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky and Rav Reuven Grozovsky as roshei yeshiva, Rav Alexander Linchner as the financial rosh yeshiva and secular studies principal, Rav Gedalya Schorr as menahel of the yeshiva, and Rav Nesanel Quinn as the principal of the high school.[7]

The yeshiva has since expanded to include a beit midrash in Monsey, an elementary school division in nearby Marine Park, and two summer camps all serving a student body, from nursery to postgraduate kollel, that numbers nearly 2,000 students.[8]


"Torah im Derech Eretz" historically influenced the yeshiva's philosophy,[9] but today it is strongly influenced by the haredi or, ultra-orthodox philosophy. However, Torah Vodaas is one of the many major haredi yeshivas that allow its students to attend college while studying at the yeshiva. The great majority of the yeshiva's graduates go on to work in fields that are not related to the torah education that they received in yeshiva.[10]

Rosh YeshivaEdit

The current roshei yeshiva are Rabbi Yosef Savitsky, a prominent student of Rabbi Berel Soloveitchik, and Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Rabbi of Agudath Israel of Madison and author of several sefarim, including The Laws Of Ribbis, and Pathways of the Prophets. Previous roshei yeshiva include Rabbis Yisroel Belsky, Avraham Yaakov Pam, Shlomo Heiman, Dovid Leibowitz, Yaakov Kamenetsky, Shachne Zohn, Zelik Epstein, Gedalia Schorr, Elya Chazan, Reuvain Fein, Simcha Sheps, Moshe Rosen, and Reuvain Grozovsky.[11]

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ Bunim, Amos (1989). A Fire in His Soul: Irving M. Bunim, 1908-1980. Feldheim Publishers. p. 250. ISBN 0-87306-473-9. 
  2. ^ Sherman, Moshe D. (1996). Orthodox Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook. Greenwood Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-313-24316-6. 
  3. ^ "Rabbi Isaac Jacob Reines" (PDF). 
  4. ^ Helmreich, William B. (2000). The World of the Yeshiva: An Intimate Portrait of Orthodox Jewry. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. p. 26. ISBN 9780881256420. 
  5. ^ Rosenblum, Reb Shraga Feivel, p. 76.
  6. ^ Helmreich, William B. (2000). The World of the Yeshiva: An Intimate Portrait of Orthodox Jewry. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. pp. 27–28. ISBN 9780881256420. 
  7. ^ Mendlowitz, Paul (2009-08-27). "Unorthodox-Jew A Critical View of Orthodox Judaism: The Battles That Brought Down Yeshiva Torah Vodaath - The Mother Of American Yeshivas. Part One". Unorthodox-Jew A Critical View of Orthodox Judaism. Retrieved 2016-01-24. 
  8. ^ Tannenbaum, Rabbi Gershon. "My Machberes". The Jewish Press. Retrieved 2016-01-24. 
  9. ^ Ben Zion Weberman (1896-1968): Life and Legacy of an Orthodox Jewish Attorney in New York City During the Interwar Period and Beyond, Moshe Rapaport, University of Hawaii
  10. ^ Helmreich, William B. (2000). The World of the Yeshiva: An Intimate Portrait of Orthodox Jewry. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. p. 268. ISBN 9780881256420. 
  11. ^ Tannenbaum, Rabbi Gershon. "My Machberes". The Jewish Press. Retrieved 2016-02-07. 

External linksEdit