Yaakov Weinberg

Not to be confused with Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg.
Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg
Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivas Ner Yisroel
Position Rosh yeshiva
Yeshiva Yeshivas Ner Yisroel
Predecessor Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman
Successor Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky
Personal details
Birth name Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg
Born 1923
Died 1 July 1999
Spouse Chana Ruderman
Children Matis
Occupation Rosh yeshiva

Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, known as Yaakov Weinberg (also Jacob S. Weinberg) (1923 – July 1, 1999) was an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, Talmudist, and rosh yeshiva (dean) of Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, Maryland[1] one of the major American non-Hasidic yeshivas. Rabbi Weinberg also served as a leading rabbinical advisor and board member of a number of important Haredi and Orthodox institutions such as Torah Umesorah, Agudath Israel of America and the Association for Jewish Outreach Programs.

Early life and family

Weinberg was a scion of the Slonimer Hasidic dynasty. He was the great-great-grandson of Rabbi Avraham of Slonim, author of Yesod HaAvodah and founder of the dynasty, and the grandson of Rabbi Noah Weinberg of Slonim and Tiberias, whom the first Slonimer Rebbe had sent to Palestine to establish a Torah community in the late 19th century.[2]

His father, Rabbi Yitzchak Mattisyahu Weinberg, a son of Rabbi Noah Weinberg, was married three times. His first wife died while giving birth to his son, Chaim Yosef David. His second wife also bore him a son, Avraham, before they divorced. Rabbi Yitzchak Mattisyahu married his third wife, Ayala Hinda Loberbaum, the daughter of Rabbi Avner Loberbaum of Safed, when he was in his thirties, and she was but fourteen. They had five children. The first two, Moshe and Chava, were born in 1910 and a year or so later. During World War I, Rabbi Yitzchak Mattisyahu was forced to leave Palestine and move to America because he was framed in the killing a young Arab girl; he brought his family to join him in New York in 1921. His and Hinda's third child, Yaakov, was born in 1923. Then they had a girl named Chaya (Helene). Their youngest child, Noah, was born in 1931.[2]

In 1931 Hinda took her two youngest sons to visit her family in Palestine and ended up staying for three years. During that time, Yaakov Weinberg attended cheder in Tiberias and later learned in the Etz Chaim Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Upon their return to America, Weinberg attended Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, and later studied at Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin[3] under Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner. Weinberg was regarded as a top student and was assigned to weekend rabbinical duties at the age of 19. Rabbi Hutner gave him semicha in 1944 when he was 21.[2]

Marriage and family position at Ner Israel

In 1945, Weinberg married Shaina Chana Ruderman, the only child of Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman, founder of the Ner Israel yeshiva. They had two boys and four girls. Weinberg excelled in Talmudic scholarship, as a rabbinical advisor and in teaching ability. Weinberg eventually succeeded his father-in-law as the main rosh yeshiva of Ner Israel yeshiva, but not before undertaking a number of other rosh yeshiva positions. Weinberg has 40 grandchildren.

In 1964, Weinberg went to the Yeshivas Ner Yisroel of Toronto originally the Toronto branch of Ner Israel, where he served as dean until 1971. He then returned to Baltimore but went on to serve for a short time as rosh yeshiva at the now defunct Kerem Yeshiva founded by his son, Rabbi Matis Weinberg, in Santa Clara, California. However, following the death of his father-in-law, Rabbi Ruderman, he became the permanent rosh yeshiva of Ner Israel in Baltimore in 1987 until his death in 1999.

Advisor and teacher of other rabbis

Weinberg was regarded as a master logician, with broad knowledge and depth in all aspects of Jewish law and philosophy.[2] He was also a sought-after counselor, involved in hundreds of private and public issues and concerns within the Jewish community.

He often took the lead in "question and answer" sessions at Torah Umesorah conventions where hundreds of rabbis would seek his counsel and many of these teachings have been published, as in Rav Yaakov Weinberg Talks About Chinuch[4]

His student Rabbi Boruch Leff based his teachings on Weinberg's methods in Forever His Students: Powerful essays and lessons on contemporary Jewish life, inspired by the teachings of Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg.[5]

Weinberg had a close relationship with his brother, Noach Weinberg, and was held in high esteem by the Aish HaTorah yeshiva for baalei teshuva that the latter founded. The two Weinberg brothers remained close and Yaakov Weinberg was a frequent guest lecturer at Aish HaTorah, where most of his lectures have been preserved and even transcribed. An example is his lecture about "The Palestinians: Facts & Fables" and his views on the subject.[6]

Influence in the broader Orthodox world

He was involved with a variety of communities, including the Iranian Jewish community for which Ner Yisroel developed a rabbinic training program.[7]

Spokesman and leader of Orthodox organizations

Rabbi Weinberg was a member of the rabbinical board of Torah Umesorah - National Society for Hebrew Day Schools and was a frequent scholar in residence at Torah Umesorah annual conventions and retreats. His teachings were deemed to be significant enough to have been printed in Torah Umesorah publications, such as in a book published in 1975 titled Building Jewish Ethical Character where a chapter is devoted to Rabbi Weinberg's lectures on "Mitzvos as 'Springboards' for Ethical behavior".[8] His activities and views were also cited in a 1982 work researched and published by Professor William Helmreich at CUNY Graduate Center, titled The World of the Yeshiva: An Intimate Portrait of Orthodox Jewry.[9]


The Association for Jewish Outreach Programs, originally known as the Association for Jewish Outreach Professionals, (AJOP), devoted to the cause of Orthodox Jewish outreach (kiruv) was launched in 1988 and Rabbi Weinberg was chosen as its lead rabbinic advisor, a post he retained until his death in 1999. AJOP was launched with the backing of the AVI CHAI Foundation that provided several million dollars as seed money for AJOP to establish itself and run its first number of annual conventions. At the same time the AVI CHAI Foundation also endowed a new institute at the Ner Israel yeshiva in Baltimore known as the MAOR Institute that would train its yeshiva graduates to become proficient "outreach rabbis" that would dovetail with AJOP's mission of enhancing the already extant field of outreach workers. Thus Rabbi Weinberg headed both MAOR and AJOP that were both aimed and enhancing the field of reaching out to non-Orthodox Jews. Weinberg guarded his position in AJOP and ensured that his allies, such as Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald (AJOP first president) and himself the founder of another multi million dollar AVI Chai Foundation project the National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP), remained in its leadership positions.

When AJOP published a seminal work in 1990 by Rabbi Moshe Weinberger titled Jewish Outreach: Halakhic Perspectives it was Rabbi Weinberg who gave his written approbation and blessings to the work and its author.[10]


Many of Rabbi Weinberg's teachings have been published in essay and book form in Orthodox publications. Targum Press published Rabbi Weinberg's Fundamentals and Faith: Insights into the Rambam's Thirteen Principles.[11] In turn, Weinberg's ideas from this work are quoted in abother work about Jewish ethics titled Bridging the Gap.[12]

Orthodox magazines, such as The Jewish Observer, have published many of Rabbi Weinberg's speeches that later were also reprinted in ArtScroll books. For example, in A Path Through the Ashes, there is an essay by Weinberg about The Destruction of European Jewry: A Churban of Singular Dimensions.[13]

After his death, his students compiled and published his work on Maimonides, entitled Meoros HaRambam. Ner Israel Archive has been digitizing Rabbi Weinberg's legacy for a number of years.

Death and legacy

Rabbi Weinberg succumbed to cancer that spread very quickly, surprising many people who knew him. His funeral was held at the Ner Israel yeshiva and was attended by several important rosh yeshivas, such as Rabbi Aaron Schechter the rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin and Rabbi Yaakov Perlow the Novominsker Rebbe and rosh yeshiva, both senior members of Agudath Israel of America's Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah. They, like Weinberg, were all originally proteges and disciples of Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn.

Weinberg was succeeded as the senior rosh yeshiva of Ner Israel yeshiva by Rabbi Kulefsky, another disciple of both Rabbi Hutner and Rabbi Ruderman; Rabbi Aharon Feldman took his place after a short time. Unlike Rabbi Weinberg, Rabbi Feldman was accepted and serves as a full member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of the American Agudath Israel.

Following Rabbi Weinberg's death, it has been mostly the family of Rabbi Herman N. Neuberger that has dominated the yeshiva and none of Weinberg's sons have succeeded him in any official role in the Ner Israel yeshiva. Rabbi Weinberg's son-in-law, Rabbi Beryl Weisbord, was appointed as Ner Israel yeshiva's mashgiach ruchani (spiritual guide); he is married to Rabbi Weinberg's daughter Dr. Aviva Weisbord who has a doctorate in psychology.

Rabbi Weinberg's son, Rabbi Matis Weinberg, has also served as rosh yeshiva of a number of institutions in America and Israel. He is presently an international lecturer on Judaism and an author of a number of Torah works. Another son, Rabbi Simcha Weinberg, is a lecturer on Judaism. He was married to the daughter of Rabbi Maurice Lamm and had served in a number of rabbinical posts, including that of rabbi of the prestigious Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan.

Yesh Atid MK Rabbi Dov Lipman received semicha from Rabbi Weinberg and has often cited him.[14]


  1. "Valuing Life". Jewish World Review. 8 October 1999.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Plaut, Mordecai Plaut (4 August 1999). "A Rebbi for America: HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, zt'l". Deiah veDibur.
  3. "Memorium for Rabbi Weinberg". Where What When.
  4. Rav Yaakov Weinberg Talks About Chinuch. Targum Press. 2006. ISBN 1-56871-393-2.
  5. Leff, Boruch (2004). Forever His Students: Powerful essays and lessons on contemporary Jewish life, inspired by the teachings of Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg. Targum Press. ISBN 1-56871-316-9.
  6. Caviness, Rochelle (14 April 2002). "Large Print Reviews: The Palestinians Facts & Fables, By Rav Yaakov Weinberg zt"l". Large Print Reviews. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  7. "Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg Z"L: An Advocate for Judaism in the Persian Community". Archived from the original on January 7, 2009.
  8. Building Jewish Ethical Character: Section II: "Ethics in the Classroom" by Rabbi Jacob S. Weinberg. (Joseph Kamenetsky and Murray Friedman, editors) pp. 73-76. The Fryer Foundation and Torah Umesorah publishers. New York, 1975.
  9. The World of the Yeshiva: An Intimate Portrait of Orthodox Jewry: Chapter 10: Is the Yeshiva Successful in Reaching Its Goals?: Reaching Uncommitted Jews, pp. 286-7, by William B. Helmreich. (The Free Press/Collier Macmillan, New York, 1982)
  10. Jewish Outreach: Halakhic Perspectives, p. viii, by Rabbi Moshe Weinberger. (K'tav Publishing and AJOP) New York, 1990
  11. Weinberg, Rabbi Yaakov; Blumenfeld, Rabbi Mordechai (1991). Fundamentals and Faith: Insights into the Rambam's Thirteen Principles. Targum Press. ISBN 0-944070-74-4.
  12. Fertig, Avi (2007). Bridging the Gap: Clarifying the Eternal Foundations of Mussar and Emunah for Today. New York/Jerusalem: Feldheim Publishers. p. 445. ISBN 978-1-58330-962-9.
  13. A Path Through the Ashes: Penetrating analyses and inspiring stories of the Holocaust from a Torah perspective: II: The Surviving Generation Looks Back: The Destruction of European Jewry: A Churban of Singular Dimensions by Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg. (Rabbi Nisson Wolpin editor.) (Mesorah Publications and Agudath Israel), Brooklyn, NY, 1986
  14. Lipman, Dov Moshe (2006). Discover : answers for teenagers (and adults) to questions about the Jewish faith. Jerusalem: Feldheim Publishers. ISBN 978-1583309025.
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