Memory Lane: Rav Hershel Stollman, zt”l

Memory Lane: Rav Hershel Stollman, zt”l

Rav Stollman served as the longtime rov of Beth Israel of Boro Park and was a students of the great yeshivos in Europe who transmitted Torah through his work in Novaradok in Boro Park and his rabbonus of Beth Israel.

The Iluy of Rubelye

Herschel was born in the year 1911 in the small town of Rubelye, a suburb of David Horodok. Then Poland, today Belarus, Rubelye is located approximately 35 km from the town of Stolin, and a large concentration of the families in the area counted themselves Stoliner chassidim—including the Stollmans.

Following a pogrom, his older siblings fled for Palestine and the United States. But Herschel remained to learn in the yeshivos of Poland. He first learned in Slabodka—where he was known as the iluy of Rubelye—and from there he went to Novaradok because his older cousin, and mentor, Yitzchok Stollman (later of Detroit) was there (he would later reunite with Novaradok in Boro Park, teaching the talmidim there).

He eventually left for Palestine, and enrolled in the Chevron yeshiva. Through Divine Providence, he missed a bus, and was not there on that terrible day in 1929 when the massacre took place (interestingly, his predecessor at Beth Israel, Rabbi Harold Zvi Gottesman experienced a similar miracle!).

Following the happenings in Hebron, he decided to leave for America. The visa that he acquired was granted to him on account of being a clergyman, and the position he found brought him to the shores of Toledo, Ohio. The Rav of Toledo was Rav Yitzchok Moshe Zilberman who had come from Europe years before. Rav Herschel married Etta, the youngest daughter of the Zilberman’s in Toledo, around 1938 (an older son in law, and Rav Zilberman’s successor was Rav Moshe Feinstein’s brother in law, Rav Nechemia Katz, zecher tzaddikim livracha).

He found a rabbinic position in the hamlet of Elwood City, Pennsylvania, and this is where he settled. His oldest son was born in Indiana, PA. At a later point he arrived in Brooklyn.  

A Sterling Rabbinic Tenure

Alan Jay Gerber moved to Boro Park from the Lower East Side in the year 1970, two blocks from the Shul—and a consummate activist, he soon became involved in Shul life, and through this dealt extensively with Rav Stollman.

“He was exceptionally dedicated to the members of the Shul, and was truly involved in their lives, in good times, and especially in the not-such-good times. “Rabbi Stollman officiated at more levayos than anyone could count… he was a model for the dedication and involvement of a Rov in the lives of his constituents. He truly, deeply cared for them,” Mr. Gerber recalls.

In later years, Mr. Gerber resided across the street from Rav Stollman, on Fort Hamilton Parkway, and here he witnessed the personal side… the supreme love and dedication of Rav Stollman to his family. “He was a role model to his entire community in dedication to his family—at all cost. His wife was not always well, and he was.

Mr. Siegfried Lobel, the longtime president of the Shul, recalled: ..” he also made it his business to help parents of younger children with selection—and acceptance—to the most appropriate schools for their children…and, when necessary procured tuition breaks for those in need.”

It is interesting to note Rav Stollman handpicked Beth Israel’s current Rav to succeed him. “He always thought that Rav Korb, shlit”a, was the right fit for this community… and that’s what has ultimately happened,” notes Alan Gerber. “So in a sense you can say that Rabbi Stollman’s influence is felt at Beth Israel all these years later, through Rabbi Korb, who continues to lead the Shul with such distinction.”  

In 1987, he passed away and was buried in Kfar Sava—leaving behind beautiful generations, including a number of Rabbonim and marbitzei Torah, a true testament to this giant of Torah and middos who enhanced Jewish life for three decades in Boro Park of yesteryear.

BDE: Mrs. Esther Bleier, a”h, 104, Daughter and Confidante of Rav Yonasan Steif, zt”l
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