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Rabbis and students of Yeshivas Toras Emes (Schneider's) - (Frankfurt, Germany then London, England)

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Yeshivas Toras Emes (Schneider's)

Yeshivas Toras Emes ("Schneider's Yeshiva") was a Lithuanian style yeshiva in London. The founder and head of the yeshiva was Rabbi Moshe Schneider - Rosh Yeshiva Toras Emes, London. The yeshiva was originally located in Memel and Frankfurt.


In 1902, Rabbi Schneider established a yeshiva in Memel. The yeshiva operated there until the First World War. After the war, around the year 1920, he re-established his yeshiva in Frankfurt. The yeshiva was run in the style of the Lithuanian yeshivas. The yeshiva was attended mainly by young men who had fled Poland for fear of being drafted. The yeshiva did not take tuition and provided a full board and lodging.

Rabbi Schneider gave lessons and 'mussar' talks at the yeshiva. He stressed the importance of learning 'mussar' with enthusiasm and with a tearful voice in line with the teachings of Reb Yisrael Salanter and his disciple The Alter of Kelm - Reb Simcha Zissel. His talks were sharp and demanding, and he did not allow laymen from the city to hear them, for fear of breaking their hearts.

The yeshiva was visited by rabbis who happened to be in the city, and they gave lessons there, including Reb Leib Wilkomirer, Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein, Ahron Wolkin and R' Israel Friedman, 2nd Admur Czortkow. Rabbi Epstein made the blessing 'Shehechiyonu' when he visited the yeshiva, for his admiration for a yeshiva of this level within Germany. The townspeople however, were not enthusiastic about such a yeshiva and hardly supported it. The exception was Yehoshua Selig Shachnowitz, the editor of "Der Israelite".

Due to Rabbi Schneider's travels to raise money for the yeshiva, he appointed Rabbi Moshe Karpel to teach in his place. Rabbi Karpel served in the yeshiva from 1920 to 1930. Yeshiva graduates served in rabbinical posts, teaching and shechita positions throughout Germany. The students adored the Rosh Yeshiva, calling him "the Rebbe".

After the Nazis came to power, the boys were expelled from Poland and the yeshiva was left with few young men. He worked among the local populace, and established a morning yeshiva for prayer and a study session until work, a study session after work and full study sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Some of the populace were affected and left their jobs. During this period, young people began to accept the idea of ​​Torah study, also due to the demand of the Agudas Yisrael training camps, in particular by Shaul Lustig, to study in a yeshiva as part of the training conditions. Some of the boys were 'baalei teshuva', and he engaged in teaching them basic laws and Torah concepts. Rabbi Schneider writes in 1918 "among the boys in the yeshiva, there are those who until 3 years ago ate pork and desecrated Shabbos, and now they are excellent, study constantly and immensely, and there are those who when they came to the yeshiva did not know how to bless the Torah, and now they are precious... ". During this period, Rabbi Gershon Henoch Judeleib, a brother-in-law of Rabbi Schneider served as a lecturer in the yeshiva as did Rabbi Ben Zion Rachelsohn.

The yeshiva suffered persecution during this period. Once, Nazis entered the yeshiva and started beating the boys. Several years before the war, the authorities decided to leave only one yeshiva in the city. Rabbi Schneider thought that a foreign citizen would certainly not be allowed to keep his yeshiva and appealed to the director of the general community yeshiva to accept him and his students as a class in his yeshiva. The yeshiva director refused, fearing the authorities would become suspicious. Rabbi Schneider turned to the head of the government, begging him that he had put his whole life in this yeshiva, and he agreed to allow him to keep his yeshiva.

In 1939 the yeshiva was closed by the Nazis. Rabbi Schneider opened a yeshiva in his house and dozens of young men stayed there. After seeing the difficulties in continuing to disseminate Judaism in the city, he decided to emigrate to Britain .

The Yeshiva in London

Upon his arrival in London, Rabbi Schneider opened the yeshiva with only one young man, in the beis hamidrash of the wealthy Sender Herman. Through the efforts of Rabbi Dr Solomon Schonfeld, he received permission to bring thirty of his students to London, who were at the time scattered throughout Germany and Poland. They were joined by young men from Vienna who had been expelled. All in all there were 80 young men in the yeshiva.

The establishment of the yeshiva raised many difficulties. The young men, who had been refugees for a long time, were in a difficult mental state, in addition to their concern for the lives of their families. The general and economic situation in London was also difficult due to the numerous bombings and refugees. Rabbi Schneider strengthened his students with the fact that the Eastern European yeshivas were destroyed, and that they had to establish a new yeshiva. He was unable to recruit rabbis, and the older students who graduated from Lithuanian yeshivos gave lessons to the young men, with his son Rabbi Gedalya Schneider serving above them. Every older boy was required to study several hours with a younger student.

In 1940, Rabbi Schneider's son-in-law, Rabbi Leizer Lopian, began serving as a rabbi in the yeshiva. In the summer of that year, the government imprisoned natives of Germany and Austria, and about half of the yeshiva students were sent to detention camps. After the yeshiva was reduced in size, Rabbi Schneider sent his young men to persuade Jewish young men who had worked in army workshops or were in training kibbutzim to come to the yeshiva, and indeed a number of young men agreed and became yeshiva boys. When the government learned of his actions, it ordered the closure of the yeshiva. With the help of lobbying, the closure of the yeshiva was cancelled, and the boys from the "hachshara" were allowed to stay in it, but a deportation order was issued against Rabbi Schneider. This order was later revoked with the help of Rabbi Dr. Joseph Herman Hertz.

In 1943, Rabbi Schneider's son-in-law, Rabbi Yitzhak Zvi Zeidel Siemiatycki, was appointed rabbi of the yeshiva. Rabbi Siemiatycki, a graduate of the Mir Yeshiva, raised the level of the yeshiva. Many graduates of the yeshiva studied after their marriage at the Kollel in Gateshead. Later, another son-in-law was appointed, Rabbi Alter Yitzchak Shlomo Halpern, a graduate of the yeshiva from Frankfurt.

In 1944 the yeshiva relocated to Manchester, due to the fact that the boys were afraid to stay in the city. A year later they returned to London. In 1947 Rabbi Siemiatycki, under the instruction of his father-in-law, went to Hungary, and brought dozens of young Holocaust survivors. in 1950 a Kollel was opened adjacent to the yeshiva. In 1951 Rabbi Siemiatycki went to Morocco and brought back twenty boys. The Reichman family lived in Morocco, and their son Paul Reichmann worked there to gather young men and send them to London. The boys learned the Yiddish language and shaved their beards in the yeshiva. Among the young men were Rabbi Yaakov Toledano and his nephew, Rabbi Nissim Toledano.

The yeshiva managed to develop a high level like the Lithuanian yeshivas. Rabbi Aharon Kotler, Rosh Yeshivas Kletzk & Lakewood and R' Joseph Shlomo Kahaneman gave lectures at the yeshiva during their stay in London.

Many yeshiva alumni have served and are serving in rabbinical positions around the world. Among the prominent graduates are, Rabbi Yitzchak Tuvia Weiss and Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch .

Today there is a kollel in the yeshiva headed by Rabbi Menachem Halpern, the son of Rabbi Alter Yitzchak Shlomo Halpern, and the grandson of Rabbi Schneider.

Adapted from the Hebrew Wikipedia entry and other sources