Memory Lane: Reb Moshe Yehuda Gleicher, z”l
It was Boro Park of the 1930’s, and Zeirei Agudas Yisroel was renting space from Cong. Shomrei Shabbos. Among those young Agudists was a prolific writer, a thinker, with a beating Jewish Heart. His name was Reb Moshe Yehuda Gleicher. He would remain a part of this group, awakening the hearts of his American brethren through his heartfelt pen.
Reb Yisroel Spiegel, an ardent Chortkover chassid who served as a longtime editor of the Hebrew Hamodia. A man of depth and feeling, he also authored a two-volume book on chassidim who hailed from the Ruziner courts, by the name of al tzaddikim v’al chassidim.
His son, ybl”ch, Reb Avraham Chanoch, notes that Boro Park had a particularly high concentration of Chortkover chassidim, and in the 1920’s were led by a tremendous ben aliyah, Reb Avigdor Regenbogen. Reb Moshe Yehuda Gleicher was also a Chortkover chassid resided here as well, after coming here in the aftermath of WWI.
He married the daughter of another distinguished Boro Park personality, Rav Yoel Summer (who received his semichah from Rav Chaim Brisker) who served as the unofficial Rav of Shomrei Emunah, delivering shiurim there, as did Rav Yoels brother.
Writes Reb Yisroel Spiegel: “Reb Moshe Yehuda was a chassid, and an Agudist with every fiber of his being. A true Galician chassid, who did not flaunt… he managed to make a tremendous impression on me in the few times that we met at the Agudah conventions in New York.
“He sought me out because of our common bond of being Chorkover chassidim, and this was something that was part of every fiber of his being.”
Reb Yisroel goes on to relate how, on one occasion, on 13 Kislev, the yahrtzeit of the Tiferes Yisroel of Chortkov, found his father bent over an article in Der Morgen Journal, in his store in Meah She’arim—and he was beside himself at the caliber of this profile, authored by someone who obviously harbored a deep appreciation and an understanding of chassidus in general, and of Chortkover chassidus in particular.
“This was a man who came to America in the 1920’s, and America did not influence him one iota.”
Being a true follower of the Chortkover Rebbes, who were instrumental in the founding of Agudas Yisroel, it can come as no surprise that Reb Moshe Yehuda dedicated himself with heart and soul to the Agudah and its activities—far beyond his writing for Dos Yiddishe Vort. He was instrumental in founding the first group of Zeirei Agudas Yisroel, and over the years stood at the ready to assist the Agudah in every which way, and was a beloved figure at Agudath Israel of Boro Park.
Reb Yosef Friedenson, z”l, publisher and editor of Dos Yiddishe Vort remembered his dedication, and how with his talent for writing, he assisted this important publication in getting started—helping the Agudah spread its word—and how, although arriving as a young bachur’l, he went on to not only retain his own yiddishkeit, but he also helped other strengthen their own Torah observance.
His magnum opus is a book that he authored by the name of “Fun Amsterdam biz Yerushalayim,” detailing the saga of the kadosh, Yaakov Yisroel De Han, who dedicated his life to the welfare of the yishuv in Eretz Yisroel.
A glimpse into the movement that Reb Moshe Yehuda lived for comes from an article that he penned in honor of 40 years of the founding of Zeirei. In it he recalls with such longing those evenings when he and the chaverim would toil in learning with such love in Agudas Yisroel Snif Alef, on Grand Street on the Lower East Side, and how the entire raison d'être for this movement was to strengthen Torah and mitzvos among the Jewish youth of America.
Reb Moshe Yehuda sadly did not leave behind any children of his own. But his legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of those that he inspired with eloquence, with passion, and with an undying commitment to Torah and chassidus in Boro Park of yesteryear.