Home Correction letter Letter to the Editor: Thank you Rabbi Blau

Letter to the Editor: Thank you Rabbi Blau


For the editor:

Congratulations on the wonderful tribute to my teacher and mentor, Rabbi Yosef Blau; his contribution to the religious and emotional growth of generations of YU students; and his courageous contributions to make our Orthodox community more sensitive and committed to confronting its shortcomings and working to correct them.

A small but important correction is in order, however. The author writes that Rabbi Blau came to the MTA in 1951 and “has been at YU ever since” assuming the role of mashgiach ruchani in 1977 (the year I joined the MTA).

In fact, from the mid-1960s to 1977, Rabbi Blau served as vice principal at Maimonides School in Brookline, MA, then served as principal at Skokie Yeshiva High School in Chicago, IL, followed by his tenure as principal. at the JEC in Elizabeth, NJ.

My chevra at Yeshiva College and YU, who later continued semichagraduate studies and collar learning at YU in the late 1970s and 1980s was very close to Rabbi Blau during those formative years (and beyond). (I was at YU from 1977 to 1989, then I worked part-time at YU in the early years of the Torah Umadda project in the early 1990s.) . We always thought that the fact that he did not stay in YU, in the “ivory tower” without interruption, but that he went to various communities to work in the trenches was a key element of the tremendous impact and success of Rabbi Blau as a guide and mentor. His real-world experiences outside of the New York community and out of the Yeshiva bubble for over a decade and a half, gave him great insight, empathy, wisdom and understanding of much of the wealth and complexity of American Jewry in general and the Modern Orthodox community in particular. He is one of the treasures of our community that continues to be a North Star for so many of us in chinchuchthe rabbinate, lay leaders and beyond.

With the blessings of the Torah,

Nathanael Helfgot

MTA, ’81, YC, ’85, RIETS, ’89, AZ ’89