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YU Community Mourns Passing of Rabbi Charlop, Long-Time RIETS Dean

An extraordinary leader, scholar, educator, and one of the architects of Yeshiva University as we know it today, Rabbi Zevulun Charlop z”l, YU ’51, RIETS ’54, passed away on Tuesday, beseiva tovah, at the age of 94.

As the Max and Marian Grill Dean of the Rabbi Issac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) for more than 35 years, his impact on YU was deep and profound. Under his stewardship, RIETS experienced enormous growth, graduating thousands of rabbis, educators and Jewish scholars. As Dean of RIETS, Rabbi Charlop left a deep and enduring imprint on YU, becoming a role model for what it means to be a rabbi.

Rabbi Zevulun Charlop
Rabbi Zevulun Charlop

“This yeshiva was forever changed, elevated and made great by the religious personality and character of our longtime rebbe,” said Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University.

Rabbi Charlop was a grandson of the saintly Yerushalmi Gaon Rav Yaacov Moshe Charlop as well as the son of Rabbi Yechiel Michel Charlop, one of the leading rabbonim of the U.S. In leadership capacity at YU and in organizations across the county, he nurtured generations of rabbinic and lay leaders, impacting Jewish communities throughout the world.

“My father was a great rabbi, and I wanted to be like him,” Rabbi Charlop once said. “I knew I would never reach his heights, but nonetheless that’s what I aspired to be. The word rabbi means teach, it’s also the community; a man of great compassion and caring, you have to love your people no matter what. It’s not always easy.”

For 54 years, Rav Charlop served as the rov of the Young Israel of Mosholu Parkway in the Bronx — where he spent most of his life.

Dedicated to God and to the Jewish people, a scholar of Torah, rabbinic law, and American history, Rabbi Charlop was a role model for rabbinical students, devoting his life to educating future generations of rabbis; his goal was always to create rabbis who could relate to the broadest range of Jews throughout the country and world. With a passion for Judaism and for life, he embodied the ideals of Yeshiva University.

“At the heart of Rabbi Charlop was Yeshiva University, its students, its leadership, its rabbeim,” said Yaakov Neuburger, Rosh Yeshiva of RIETS and Rabbi Charlop’s son in law. “He was one of the great stewards of Yeshiva University and he believed with the greatest passion in what Yeshiva University accomplishes.”

“Rabbi Charlop was completely unique individual,” said Rabbi Mordechai Willig, Rosh Yeshiva of RIETS. “There was no one like him. He fought the battles of Hashem, for the sake of heaven, without any personal interest whatsoever, without fear, for the sake of the truth.”

Rabbi Charlop authored numerous scholarly essays, including “The Making of Orthodox Rabbis” in Encyclopedia Judaica and “G-d in History and Halakha from the Perspective of American History.” He also was the editor of novellae on Torah and Talmud by his late father and the author of Shefa Yamim, a 470-page collection of his original Torah thoughts.

Zevulun Charlop served as president of the American Committee for the United Charities in Israel, General Israel Orphans Home for Girls in Jerusalem, and the National Council of Young Israel rabbis.

May Hashem comfort the family with all those who mourn for Zion and Jerusalem.