Memory Lane: Rabbi Zev (Wolf) Gold.
By: Yitzy Fried
Rav Gold was born in Szczuczyn, Poland (40 km north of Lomza), to his father Rav Yaakov Meir Kravchinsky—one of the prized talmidim of Volozin—who later had to change his name to Gold, due to the difficulties of the times.
A glimpse of the chevra of his youth: his chaverim in yeshiva had been Rav Avraham Yitzchok Hakohen Kook, the Kovno Rav, Rav Moshe Mordechai Epstein of Slobodka, and Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer to name a few. A young Rabbi Gold was one of the great Rabbanim in the region, participating in missions to St. Petersburg, corresponding with Sir Moses Montefiore about the welfare of his brethren, and authoring many halachic works.
In his youth, he learned in Lida by Rav Yitzchok Yaakov Reines, and from that time he became attached to the Mizrahi movement—later becoming one of its greatest leaders. He learned in the Mirrer yeshiva—whose Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Elya Baruch Kamei extolled his Torah brilliance, and foretold a great future for him. At the tender young age of 17 (!), he received semichah from Rav Eliezer Rabinowitz Av Beis Din of Minsk.
He came to America at the age of 18, and married the daughter of Rav Moshe Reichler, Rav of Utica, NY—assuming his position when he passed away. He was immediately recognized for his many qualities—and held Rabbinic positions in Scranton, Chicago, and later in New York City (1912-1919)—where he was one of the founders of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath in 1917. After a few years in San Francisco—where he likewise founded a yeshiva—he returned to New York, and assumed the leadership of Congregation Shomrei Emunah of Borough Park, founded 20 years previously.
In an article entitled “Rabbi Installed in Temple Here,” the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports how Rabbi Gold traveled the world on behalf of the World Mizrahi movement, and had previously served in Williamsburg. His appointment ceremony was attended by Rav Moshe Zevulun Magolies, one of the greatest leaders of American Jewry, and Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Peikes (who was also at Shomrei Emunah), Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum of Beth Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Aaron Kaplan of Bnei Yehuda (also appointed that year), and Rabbi Yosef Peimer of Beth El—all of Boro Park.
This tenure lasted until 1935—when he fulfilled his dream of living in the Holy Land.
But he did not settle there permanently. He traveled extensively throughout America and Europe for the cause of helping his People. Through his brilliance in Torah and his breathtaking oratory, he drew the hearts of crowds everywhere. One child of Shomrei Emunah recalls when Rav Gold returned there in the 1940’s and delivered an address in front of the Aron Kodesh: “It is a sight that will never leave my mind’s eye.” A Mirer alumnus recalled decades later the everlasting impression that Rav Gold left when he visited the Mirer yeshiva in Poland, staying at the home of the Rosh Yeshiva Rav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel—and all the bachurim and yungeleit clamored to meet and converse this magnificent personality.
In the spring of 1956, Rav Gold was niftar in Yerushalayim—leaving behind a legacy of brilliance, activism, and many descendants Talmidei Chachamim in the Eretz Yisroel.