Memory Lane: R’ Yisroel Isser (Israel) Andron—An Educator and Activist in a Fledgling Boro Park
Readers of this column—as well as most of our community—are surely familiar with the famed “All for the Boss”, the work of Rebbetzin Ruchoma Shain, in which she documents the work of her legendary father, Rav Yaakov Yosef Herman zt”l in a spiritually barren America.
In it we are acquainted with his in-laws, Rav Shmuel Yitzchok and Rebbetzin Fruma Rochel Andron, the founders of multiple yeshivos in New York—including the famed Rabbeinu Jacob Joseph (RJJ)—still in existence—in which Rav Yaakov Yosef taught generations of American boys.
Another son was Reb Yisroel Isser Andron, an utterly brilliant, wise, and compassionate personality who was involved in an extraordinary number of Klal initiatives in Boro Park of yesteryear—across all areas of Jewish life, but his primary passion was for the education of generations of Boro Park children.
The Andron Home
Yisroel Isser was born in the year 1886, the third child of Rav Shmuel Yitrzchok Andron, a noted talmid chochom from the city of Dvinsk who was granted semicha by the Ohr Somei’ach who famously lived in that city. He was a brilliant mind in Torah, and l’havdil general knowledge, and spoke eight languages. In Dvinsk he was also greatly involved in community life. These qualities would be inherited by his son Yisroel Isser.
While his father departed for America in the year 1892 with his older brother Yechiel Michel, he made the trans-Atlantic journey with his mother and remaining siblings in the year 1893, arriving in America at the age of seven.
Rav Shmuel Yitzchok was dismayed at the dearth of Torah education in America. He had taken his family out of the immediate physical danger of life in Russia, only to be confronted with the spiritual darkness of America. So when he heard the strong words of the Ridbaz (Rav Yaakov Dovid Vilovsky) of Slutzk at the Pike Street Shul about the power of Torah to protect from the fierce winds of secularization, he took action. Thus was born yeshiva RJJ, named for the memory of his tragically-departed friend, the Rav Hakollel of New York.
While he had gone into the insurance business for himself, which would enable him to keep Shabbos, the fledgling yeshiva occupied most of his time and energy…something that was not very conducive to business success. His son Yisroel Isser likewise balanced the insurance business with his many more concerns in the educational institutions.
The Jewish Tribune notes, as we have here, the similarities between the father and son: “In similar measure in Borough Park Israel Andron for about two decades connected with the teaching staffs of the public elementary schools… is doing all in his power to awaken Jewry, young and old, to the necessity of rallying to the support of Torah and of all truly orthodox endeavor…”
“Israel Andron, 58, Philanthropist,” writes the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in May of 1944. “Funeral services for Israel Andron, a leader in Jewish philanthropic and educational work in this borough, who died Tuesday in his home, 1423 46th street, were held yesterday at Temple Beth El of Borough Park, 48th street and 15th Avenue. Burial was in Montefiore Cemetery.
“Mr. Andron who was 58 was a member of the board of directors of Israel Zion Hospital, the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School, Machzikei Talmud Torah of Borough Park and Temple Beth El. He was a teacher at Young Israel Synagogue of Borough Park and a member of Congregation Shomrei Emunoh, the Yershiva College organization, Hebrew Free Loan Society, the Mizrahi Organization, Hebrew Institute of Borough Park (Yeshiva Eitz Chaim) ...”
Thus, the passing of Reb Yisroel Isser Andron at the untimely age of 58 was a true loss for this community which was fortunate to serve as home to this scion of activism and education in Boro Park of yesteryear.
The photos featured here are of R’ Shmuel Yitzchok Andron, his son R’ Yisroel Isser, and his Boro Park home.