BDE: Reb Yechiel Benzion (Benny) Fishoff, z”l, Pillar of American Torah Jewry
We are deeply saddened to inform you of the passing of Mr. Fishoff, z”l, one of the pillars of American Torah Jewry, a legendary askan and ba’al chessed, one of the most recognizable figures of the she’eiris hapleitah who never forgot the glorious world of preward Poland as he sought to rebuild it on American shores. He was 96 years of age.
He was born in Wloczewa, a small town in Poland, in 1925. The family moved to Łódź, the big city, when he was a young boy. And it was here that he imbibed the purity and the glory of prewar Polish Jewry. He would travel often to the court of Ger—of which his family were prominent chassidim, absorbing the holiness of the Imrei Emes and of the fiery Gerer chassidim who would congregate in Gora Kalwaria for the lofty moments.
He was a young lad of sixteen when the war broke out, and his parents sent him to his elderly grandparents, in the hamlet of his birth. He never dreamed that he would never see them again (in the 1970’s, he returned to Wloczewa, where an elderly gentile related that the Nazis ym’sh rounded up and shot his family on Yom Kippur. He would keep their yohrtzeits on that holy day). With great Nissim, he made it to Shanghai, where he remained for the duration of the war.
For the rest of his life, he saw in these miracles a calling, a message, a mission to rebuild.
He was an entrepreneur in his essence—and he utilized this spirit in business as well as for Klal endeavors. Through his contacts in the Far East, which he had cultivated while there, he built a successful business in electronics. For decades, he was the chairman of the Metropolitan Bank.
In every success, he saw an opportunity to accomplish for the Klal. For many decades, he served as one of the leaders of Agudas Yisroel in America, a notable presence on the dais at all of its events. He was a generous philanthropist, and was one of the benefactors of the Gerer institutions around the world. He was a ba’al menagen who composed numerous niggunim that continue to be sung in the court of Ger today.
Reb Yechiel Benzion comes to the World of Truth bearing a lifetime of chessed and building Torah and Yiddishkeit, despite the challenge and suffering.
With his passing, American Torah Jewry has lost one of its pillars who have helped bring it to its glorious present, built upon the foundations of the past.
The Levaya will take place at Shomrei Hadas at 11:00 am.
Yehi Zichro Baruch.