Remembering Rabbi Isaac Simon; Yom Iyun at YIHP

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Last weekend Young Israel of Hancock Park hosted Rabbi Mayer Twersky, a Rosh Yeshiva at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University, as scholar-in-residence. The event was sponsored by the Stohl family to commemorate the thirtieth yahrtzeit of Rabbi Isaac Simon, z”l, Mrs. Avivyah Stohl’s father. Rabbi Simon was a beloved teacher at the Maimonides school in Brookline, MA, and Rabbi Twersky, a student of Rabbi Simon, travelled to Los Angeles so that he could honor the memory of his revered Rebbe.

Rabbi Isaac Simon was born in Slonim, modern day Belarus, in 1915. He was orphaned at a young age. He attended Mir Yeshiva and his studies flourished for the next twenty years. During the war years he remained with the yeshiva, traveling across Russia to Kobe, Japan, and then Shanghai, China. After the war he moved to New York, where he met his wife, Betty Perel.

In the early 1950s, Rabbi Simon was invited to join the faculty at the Maimonides School in Boston, founded by Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, ztz”l. He remained at Maimonides for his entire professional career, teaching Chumash and Gemara to the oldest grades.

In the opening remarks on Sunday morning, Dr. William Stohl, Rabbi Simon’s son-in-law, read letters written in tribute to Rabbi Simon by his former students. They spoke of his love and dedication to his students and the personal interest he took in each and every one, making each student feel they were his favorite. The students responded with respect and admiration, paying close attention in class, and staying to learn more after the bell rang. Many former students attribute their commitment to Torah and their continued Jewish education to Rabbi Simon.

Rabbi Mayer Twerky, the scholar-in-residence, was a student of Rabbi Simon’s at Maimonides. He is a grandson of Rav Soloveitchik, ztz”l, and the son of Rabbi Isadore Twerksy, ztz”l, the Talner Rebbe of Boston and a Harvard professor of Hebrew literature and philosophy. Rabbi Mayer Twersky is currently one of the roshei yeshiva at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) of Yeshiva University. He is known for his tremendous Torah knowledge and analytical approach to learning. Rabbi Twersky maintained a relationship with his Rebbie, Rabbi Simon, even after he became a rosh yeshiva. Rabbi Simon spent the last few years of his life in Washington Heights, and Rabbi Twerky visited him regularly and frequently.

Rabbi Adir Posy, Associate Rabbi at Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, who is a student of Rabbi Twersky and a grandson-in-law of Rabbi Simon, introduced Rabbi Twersky as a true disciple of Rabbi Simon in his learning style. The community was then treated to two in-depth lectures by Rabbi Twersky, analyzing the Rambam’s approach to the mitzvos of loving G-d and of serving G-d with one’s heart. Rabbi Simon’s grandchildren, Rabbi Raphael Stohl and Dr. Hindi Posy, also spoke during the weekend.

The participants at the Yom Iyun were inspired by the stories about Rabbi Simon, enjoyed Rabbi Twersky’s analytical approach to the mitzvos that are experienced through emotions, and appreciated the opportunity to hear from a true talmid chacham who is continuing the tradition passed down from the previous generation.