Memory Lane: Rav Chaim Shereshevsky
Boro Park’s Mirrer Minyan was a gathering place for “Alte Mirrer’s” who came to know each other in the glow of their great Rebbi, Rav Yeruchom Levovitz, zt”l, The Mashgiach of the Mir. A unique bond was forged in that faraway place, and it remained ironclad forever.
Chaim Shereshvsky was a central personality in this group… And he was called upon by the Rosh Yeshiva and the mashgiach to look after the American bachurim who arrived to learn in the Mir. On account of his decades in Boro Park of yesteryear, we profile him here.
Chaim was born in Slonim in 1908 to his father Reb Yosef Shereshevsky, and the family was very close to the great tzaddik, Rav Mottele Oshminer.
As a young lad, he entered the Mir, and remained a lifelong Mirer through and through. He was especially close with the Levovitz family (many of whom were later in Boro Park), and the American talmidim who were in his care.
Reb Chaim landed in New York in 1940, through the affidavit signed by his younger friend, Leibel Pearl, who had returned in the closing moments of Erev Yom Kippur 1939. Leibel was teaching at the Salanter Yeshiva on Webster Avenue in the Bronx, and he got Reb Chaim his first job as an eighth-grade rebbi.
In 1943, He married tbl”ch Chanah Heller whose parents had come from Meah She’arim, an 8th generation Yerushalmi.
The couple settled on South Ninth Street in Williamsburg.
One frequent visitor to their home was Rav Avraham Levovitz, the son of Rav Yeruchom, the mashgiach of the Mir, in whose home Chaim was a ben bayis. He had lost his wife and daughter in the Holocaust, and he was living with his mother—Rebbetzin Levovitz— in Williamsburg, and would come each night to learn b’chavrusa with Rav Chaim. Rav Avraham
Rebbetzin Shereshevsky recalls like it was yesterday the way the Alte Mirrers would come to the house all the time… Rav Leib Malin, Rav Shmuel Charkover, all the Americans who had come there to whom he was like a mentor…”they would come and talk, and learn, and spend time…”
Around 1960, the Shereshevsky’s came to Boro Park. Here he was a pillar of the Mirer Minyan which exists to this day on 54th Street and 16th Avenue. He was the ba’al korei, and a phenomenal ba’al tefillah. He was an unforgettable teacher to many Beis Yaakov students.
For the close to thirty years in Boro Park Rav Chaim was a joyful source of never-ending inspiration, and a true vestige of the Mir of yore.
At his passing in 1988, he was laid to rest in Eretz Yisroel, leaving behind generations of beautiful Torah families who remain connected to his roots in Poland, having been raised in Boro Park of yesteryear.