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18 Sivan 5766 - June 14, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Rav Shmuel Gratz zt"l

By S. Bruchi

Rav Shmuel Gratz zt"l, founder of an important kollel for baalei batim and Kollel Ohr Hameir, passed away in Bnei Brak on Leil Shabbos Parshas Bamidbor 5766 at the age of 84.

Shmuel Gratz was born to Aharon Gratz in Lithuania. At the age of two his family moved to the US, where he was raised and educated in Torah-based schools. He studied at Yeshivas Tiferes Yerushalayim under Maran HaRav Moshe Feinstein zt"l.

After marrying, he served as the rov of Beis Knesses Agudas Achim in East New York where he showed mesirus nefesh in upholding Yiddishkeit despite the many obstacles during that period. He started numerous shiurim at different botei knesses, giving some of them himself.

As Jews began to migrate to other parts of New York, he sold the shul and gave the proceeds to the Ponevezher Rov. The money was then used to build Beit Scharansky on Rechov HaRav Meltzer in Bnei Brak and all the memorial plaques from the shul were moved and posted in the new building in Eretz Hakodesh.

In 5722 (1962) he moved to Eretz Yisroel, settling in Tel Aviv. He immediately set about founding shiurim in the city, particularly at Beis Knesses Tiferes Mordechai which he attended regularly.

He became active in saving youth from the disastrous effects of heretical schools. Working with HaRav Shaul Karelitz and HaRav Mordechai Weinstein he set up youth clubs that sponsored various activities designed to provide chizuk and draw the participants closer to avodas Hashem.

Rav Gratz founded a program of mesivtos, primarily for sixth- through eight-grade students, including dormitories to keep them away from negative influences in their home neighborhoods. He maintained contact on a daily basis with Maran HaRav Shach zt"l, who provided him great encouragement in operating the program. Rav Gratz would often travel abroad to raise money for the project.

He also founded the kollel baalei batim at the Komarna beis medrash on Rechov Devora Hanevia in Bnei Brak, which was considered a tremendous innovation at the time. The kollel, which earned the acclaim of the Kehillas Yaakov, sponsored shiurim given by gedolei Torah and prominent roshei yeshivas. He also started Kollel Ohr Hameir for yeshiva alumni forced to work in non- chinuch jobs to earn a living.

He suffered from poor health in recent years and his condition deteriorated on Leil Shabbos until he returned his purified soul to his Maker.

The levaya set out on Motzei Shabbos from his son's home and proceeded to the Komarna beis medrash, where bitter hespeidim were given by HaRav Mordechai Reinhold, HaRav Tzvi Rotberg, HaRav Yonoson Domb, HaRav Chaim Peretz Berman and his son HaRav Moshe Yosef. The eulogizers recalled the deceased's gadlus in Torah and middos as well as his resolute activities for the sake of Klal Yisroel. Following the hespeidim the levaya continued on its way to Jerusalem, where he was buried at Har Hamenuchot.

Rav Shmuel Gratz zt"l is survived by his son Moshe Yosef and his daughter who is married to HaRav Gavriel Radner, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren continuing the spiritual legacy he passed on to them during his lifetime.


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