By: RAA Staff
On Sunday, May 9, 2021, at Congregation Ahavath Achim Anshei Sfard in Brooklyn, Igud HaRabbonim, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, gathered together with family and friends for an Azkarah memorial in honor of HaGaon HaRav Yaakov Dovid Ben Reb Avraham Spivak, ZT’L, Rabbi Yaakov Spivak. At the time of his passing on March 17, 2021, Rabbi Spivak served as a Presidium Member of Igud HaRabbonim, the Rav and Rosh Kollel of the Ayshel Avraham Rabbinical Seminary and the Rabbinic Administrator of United Kosher Supervision.
Rabbi Moish Schmerler, Administrative Director of Igud HaRabbonim and President of the Rabbinic Alumni Association of Kollel Ayshel Avraham Rabbinical Seminary, introduced the program. Rabbi Schmerler began the program by emphasizing that “Rabbi Spivak made a tremendous impact on Klal Yisrael. Rabbi Spivak firmly believed that Smicha is not conferred to be hung up on a wall. It is granted to be used to make a difference for Klal Yisrael. The greatest testimony is that Ayshel Avraham’s 250 Musmachim are out there in the field making a difference every day. This truly is a living testament to our dear Rebbe and mentor Rabbi Spivak.”
Rabbi Schmerler continued that, “Rabbi Spivak would say at every Chag HaSmicha that every generation has a different chatzorot, a trumpet call, and it is the responsibility of each rav to answer that call accordingly. The rav has to be sensitive, understanding and to heed that call. Rabbi Spivak was ahead of his times. Besides being a world class Talmid Chacham, he was a long-time writer for the Jewish Press, a popular radio personality with his student Rabbi Zev Brenner on Talkline Communications, as well as a spokesperson for Torah True Judaism. In essence, Rabbi Spivak was an old time rav who took his responsibility seriously and that is why he made such a profound difference. Rabbi Spivak answered the call of his chatzorot.”
Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef Serebryanski, the rabbi of Congregation AAA Sfard, remarked that, “Rabbi Spivak’s initials YDS defined and personified his spirit. YDS stands for Yad Soledes Bo Torah. A degree of heat that ignites, rejuvenates, revitalizes and sparks Torah. Rabbi Spivak was a fire that sparks Yiddishkeit, and that fire and torch keeps on growing and moving through his friends, family and students. It is this flame that will ensure that Yiddishkeit will continue to grow and flourish, ad biyas go’el tzedek.”
Rabbi Yaakov Klass, Presidium Member of the Igud HaRabbonim and Torah Editor of the Jewish Press, described, “whenever I had a conversation with Rabbi Spivak it lasted over an hour. It was more than a conversation and more than chavrusos learning with each other. It was chaverim learning through the topic with the objective of resolving the issue at hand based upon Torah, Halacha and Jewish practice.
“Perhaps one of the most important responsibilities Rabbi Spivak bore was advocating that the Israeli Chief Rabbinate maintain supervision over official Halacha in Israel. The testimony to his achievements lie in the letters received from Chief Rabbi David Lau and Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, the Rishon L’Tzion, expressing their condolences over the passing of their friend Rabbi Spivak, ZT’”. May his memory be a blessing.”
Rabbi Gil Student, Director of Igud HaRabbonim’s Halacha Commission, stated, “I am reminded of the Holocaust survivor who had 1,000 descendants. A rebbe can have a few thousand students and a rebbe who utilizes radio and technology the way Rabbi Spivak did has millions of students. What a powerful impact Rabbi Spivak made and continues to make as those students now in turn influence others with his teachings.”
Rabbi Marvin Schwartz, a close family friend of Rabbi Spivak since they met at Yeshiva Ner Yisrael 58 years ago, stressed, “Rabbi Spivak was a unique leader in that he took responsibility and emphasized the need of a rabbi to recognize and understand his talents and use them to spread Torah and the warmth of Yiddishkeit. Rabbi Spivak fought the historical myth of supersessionism, the false claim that Jews are not special. He taught Jewish people to have pride in who and what they are and fought to show how important Jews are to their Creator.
“Rabbi Spivak did this as a young rabbi, opening a Talmud Torah in Spring Valley to teach Aleph Bet tor public school children. He reinforced this message with every age group he taught, all the way up through his rabbinical students.”
“I experienced this as an attorney at the time I was working for Metro North Railroad. One of my clients was the police department and one day they asked me to go down to Grand Central Terminal because there was a dispute going on there. I was accompanied by Chief Esposito of the NYPD. When I arrived, I saw Rabbi Spivak demonstrating against missionaries who were attempting to lure Jews to their cause. Immediately, I advised the Chief that the rabbi was fine and the issue was with the missionaries who were agitating others. Needless to say, Rabbi Spivak won that battle. It was a battle of reminding Jews how special we truly are.”
Rabbi Dovid Katz, Menahel of Igud HaRabbonim, remarked that, “Rabbi Spivak’s strength was that he firmly believed in Yisrael Saba, that Torah has a mesorah that goes back to Moshe at Sinai. Rabbi Spivak truly followed that tradition and that is why he was successful as a rav.”
Rabbi Yaakov Shulman, Menahel of the Igud HaRabbonim Beth Din, stated, “the Jewish Nation is compared to stars in heaven. Even though during the day we cannot see the stars shining, they are out there shining down on this world. And even when the star is extinguished, it may not physically be with us but its light continues illuminating this world. Although Rabbi Spivak may not physically be with us, his light, wisdom and Torah are shining on us and this light will never be extinguished.”
Rabbi Zev Brenner, a student of Rabbi Spivak and producer of Talkline Communications, remarked, “how fortunate I was to have a 40-year relationship with my rebbe and friend, Rabbi Spivak. The Talmud in Bava Basra relates that Rebbe Yitzchak teaches that a person who wants wisdom should turn to the south and person who wants wealth should turn to the north. This is because the Shulchan in the Bais HaMikdash which represents wealth was in the north and the Menorah which represents wisdom was in the south. Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi combined both and taught that one should always turn to the south because wisdom is the key to riches. For over 40 years, Rabbi Spivak would joke that we should listen to him because he is from the south, because he came from Atlanta, Georgia, and has that wisdom. He would joke but the truth is that he was, indeed, wise and very talented.”
“Rabbi Spivak was a passionate advocate for Klal Yisrael who effected positive change through serving as a rebbe, journalist and radio personality. His legacy lives un with us his talmidim and his fellow rabbis. He will be missed, but always fondly remembered.”
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, Executive Vice President of the Igud HaRabbonim, concluded the program by rededicating Kollel Ayshel Avraham Rabbinical Seminary in memory of, leilui nishmas,HaGaon HaRav Yaakov Dovid Ben Reb Avraham Spivak, ZT’L. “As a student of Rabbi Spivak, I can assuredly say that I fully concur with all the statements made by the illustrious rabbis who spoke. As a tribute to Rabbi Spivak’s legacy, we at Igud HaRabbonim cannot think of a more fitting living memorial then to continue Rabbi Spivak’s sacred calling by rededicating the Kollel in his blessed memory and continuing to do the best in his absence to produce rabbonim for Klal Yisrael.
“Rabbi Spivak received a special blessing from Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Liebes, ZT’L the illustrious Av Beth Din of the Beth Din of Igud HaRabbonim, and from the Skvere Rebbe to open the Kollel to train rabbonim for a two-fold purpose. First, to fight assimilation/shemad and to teach Jewish pride, and the second, to stand up and fight anti-Semitism. Sadly, today those reasons could not be even more compelling.
“In continuing the Kollel, Igud HaRabbonim will continue our support of this important citadel of Torah. To that end, Rabbi Yaakov Klass has graciously agreed to serve as the Rav and Rosh Kollel and Rabbi Dovid Katz will serve as the Rosh Kollel. I have agreed to serve as President of the Kollel. We have a sacred task which we would rather not have, but we owe it to Rabbi Spivak in his absence to assume the mantel of leadership. Our prayer is that Hashem should grant the hanhalah of Kollel Ayshel Avraham the ability to rise up to the expectations of Rabbi Spivak and continue to be a premier Kollel in the traditions of Rabbi Spivak. May his memory be a blessing.”
The highly respected and esteemed Chazan Jerry Markovitz, Publisher and Editor of the Jewish Connection and longtime friend of Rabbi Spivak, concluded the program by reciting the Kel Moley Rachamim.