American and Canadian Jewry were struck with grief on the
passing of one of the elder rabbonim of the US, Rabbi Oscar
Fasman zt"l, at the age of 95.
Rabbi Fasman gained renown throughout the US and Canada as an
elder statesman among the rabbonim and for the many
responsibilities he successfully bore with mesirus
nefesh. He served as president of Rabbinical Council of
the US and Canada, president of the Chicago Rabbinical
Council, president of the Beis Medrash LeTorah in the Chicago
suburb of Skokie and a leader of Jewish kehillos for
over seven decades.
He was known for upholding the Jewish religion and took an
important part in rehabilitating the Torah world in the
Rabbi Fasman was born in 5668 (1908) in Chicago to R' Shmuel,
a native of Karlin who had earlier fled from the Russian army
after being conscripted when war broke out between Russia and
Japan. After three months in the army he bribed a soldier
standing guard over the camp, fled to the port and sailed for
the US. Within one year he managed to bring his wife and two
daughters to Chicago, where their son Oscar (Osher) was
Since in those years Chicago lacked suitable Torah institutes
R' Shmuel, through his wife Basyoh Dinoh's mesirus
nefesh, hired a private tutor, a talmid chochom
who had studied at Yeshivas Volozhin and had lost his
eyesight. For three years young Oscar would go to him every
day after school to learn Torah. When he reached the age of
14 his rov told Oscar to continue his studies at a yeshiva.
Soon he became one of Yeshivas Beis Medrash LeTorah's first
talmidim. There he grew in Torah and in 5689 (1929)
was given semichoh by the yeshiva's rabbonim.
He wanted to move to Eretz Yisroel with a friend to study at
Yeshivas Knesses Yisroel Slobodka, then in Chevron, but he
was unable to go. His friend went and was murdered by Arabs
during the riots of 5689 (1929).
That same year Rav Fasman was offered a rabbinical post at a
shul without a mechitzoh, a common problem
during this period, but he refused to accept the offer.
Instead he continued studying at the yeshiva for another year
during which he was given $50 per month. When referring to
this year he would jokingly say he was the first kollel
yungerman in the US outside of New York City. In 5692
(1930) he was appointed rov of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a position he
held for the next ten years.
In 5632 (1932) he married Sheina Baila Rubin of Chicago. Her
family was known as baalei tzedokoh and machnisei
orchim. Many prominent roshei yeshivos stayed in her
father's home, including HaRav Y.S. Kahaneman and HaRav Y.M.
Gordon and others. She went on to help her husband build
Torah and Yiddishkeit for over fifty years.
In the summer of 5694 (1934) Rav Fasman sailed to Europe to
visit gedolei hador. He met HaRav Chaim Ozer
Grodzensky, HaRav Elchonon Wassermann, HaRav Y. Rozin (the
Rogotchover Rov), HaRav Chaim of Telz, HaRav Y.A. Shorr,
HaRav Z. Bloch and others. In Frankfurt he met with HaRav
Yosef Breuer. He also visited the yeshivas of Telz, Mir,
Baranovitch and Slobodka as well as Torah institutions in
Vilna, Warsaw, Cracow, Prague, Vienna, Paris, Frankfurt and
Berlin. From there he sailed to Eretz Yisroel where he
visited HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer, HaRav A. Dushnitzer,
HaRav Yechezkel Sarna, HaRav Y. Ben Menachem and others. He
also went to see the Eitz Chaim, Chevron and Petach Tikva
yeshivas. This voyage provided him a wealth of Torah and
hashkofoh that he drew on for the more than seven
decades he served in the rabbinate.
In 5700 (1940) he was offered the post of Rabbi of Ottawa,
Canada, which had five shuls and some 800 families,
all of which accepted him as their rov. Although his
congregants in Tulsa pleaded with him to stay he said his
ambition was to serve Jews and since in Ottawa he would have
an opportunity to serve more Jews he felt obligated to leave
In 5706-07 (1947) he was worried a certain person many
rabbonim had reservations about would be appointed president
of Beis Medrash LeTorah. After ascertaining that the only way
to prevent this would be to submit his own candidacy for the
position he resigned from his post in Ottawa and applied for
the yeshiva presidency, which he was later awarded. This
placed responsibility for all yeshiva matters on him for the
next 18 years.
During these fruitful years he brought in outstanding,
influential talmidei chachomim, including HaRav Chaim
Kreiswirth, to join the staff as roshei yeshiva. He also
altered the yeshiva's framework to focus on Torah learning.
He founded a mesivta with a dormitory for young men
ages 14 to 18 and moved the yeshiva from its previous
location to Skokie on a magnificent campus. During these
years he raised the standards of Torah in the yeshiva and in
He also aided considerably in rehabilitating the Jewish world
in the aftermath of the Holocaust. He brought in refugees
from Europe to the US and Canada including some who later
became known as gedolei Torah (e.g. HaRav Dovid
Kronglas, mashgiach of Yeshivas Ner Israel of
Baltimore). He had the opportunity to work with many
gedolei Yisroel in the US, including HaRav Aharon
Kotler and the Satmar Rebbe.
In 5724 (1964) he left his position at the yeshiva and,
together with the Rebbetzin's great efforts, beis
knesses Yehuda Moshe was set up just outside Chicago in
Lincolnwood. Rabbi Fasman served as rov of the beis
knesses for the next 34 years before moving to Los
Angeles to live near his sons and daughter. There he would
pray every day at the Los Angeles Kollel, providing
tremendous inspiration for the avreichim and other
members of the kehilloh. Many rabbonim visited him to
receive Torah and listen to his advice on rabbinical matters.
Some people would bring their children to the beis
knesses just to see the light radiating from his face.
In his elderly years he merited robust health and constantly
thanked HaKodosh Boruch Hu for all His goodness and
for allowing him to see his children, grandchildren, great-
grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren all following the
path of Torah and living in peace and harmony.
In recent years he republished Shtei Halechem and
Or Yekoros on Taharos, written by his great-
grandfather HaRav Osher Luria about a hundred years ago in
Vilna and Jerusalem. Overjoyed at their publication, he even
asked to be buried with copies of these seforim.
In recent months his health became frail and he had to be
hospitalized on several occasions. On the 25th of Cheshvan he
was brought to the hospital where the doctors determined he
had suffered a major heart attack. On the 30th of Cheshvan he
returned his soul to his Maker with members of his family at
The levaya set out from the Los Angeles Kollel.
Eulogizers included his firstborn son HaRav Chaim, the
rosh kollel, his son-in-law, HaRav Yehoshua Moshe
Sugarman who has served as the moro d'asro of the
Shaarei Tzedek kehilloh in Los Angeles for over 30
years, HaRav Kraus, one of the city's leading rabbonim and
darshonim and his grandsons R' Shmuel Akiva Drebbin
and HaRav Shmuel Fasman.
The levaya left from Shamgar in Jerusalem to the
rabbinical section of Har Hamenuchos with many of his
talmidim and acquaintances in attendance.
Hespeidim were delivered by Rav Berel Wein, who was
among his talmidim at Beis Medrash LeTorah; HaRav
Goldstein, the rov of Beis Knesses Yehuda Moshe; HaRav
Yitzchok Fasman, Rosh Kollel Kiryat Sefer; HaRav Avrohom
Falk, one of the roshei yeshivos of Yeshivas Neveh
Tzion; his grandson HaRav Nosson Fasman; and his great-
grandson HaRav Shlomo Chaim Falk. His son Rav Chaim delivered
stirring words of parting.
Rabbi Oscar Fasman, zt"l, is survived by his sons
HaRav Chaim, Rosh Kollel Los Angeles and one of the leading
builders of Torah in the city; Rav Reuven who, together with
his wife, is known as a prominent baalei chesed and
Torah supporter in Los Angeles; his daughter Rebbetzin
Sugarman, the wife of HaRav Yehoshua Moshe Sugarman; his
daughter Rebbetzin Drebbin, who founded and for 30 years ran
the Bais Yaakov School in Toronto; and dozens of
grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great
grandchildren engaged in lives of Torah and mitzvos.