Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman

Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman (1900, Daŭhinava - July 11, 1987) was a prominent Talmudic scholar and rabbi who founded and served as rosh yeshiva (yeshiva head) of Yeshiva Ner Yisroel in Baltimore.

He was born in Daŭhinava, Russia (now in Belarus), where his father, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ruderman, was the rabbi. He studied in Yeshivas Knesses Yisrael in Slabodke, under the "Alter", Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, and the rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein, receiving semicha from the latter in 1926.

Among Rabbi Ruderman's distinguished colleagues in Slobodka were his second cousin Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky, Rabbi Reuven Grozovsky, Rabbi Aharon Kotler, and Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner.

Building Torah in America

In 1930, Rabbi Ruderman joined his father-in-law, Rabbi Sheftel Kramer, at the latter's yeshiva in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1931, the Ruderman family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he served as one of the teachers at the Yeshiva.[1] In 1933, he moved to Baltimore, where he was immediately offered a rabbinical post. Rabbi Ruderman accepted the position on the condition that he be permitted to open a yeshiva using the synagogue facilities; he named the new yeshiva Ner Yisroel, or "Ner Israel".

The yeshiva grew quickly, and Rabbi Ruderman approached the renowned Rabbi Shimon Schwab, at the time rabbi of another Baltimore congregation, and invited him to join the faculty. Rabbi Schwab taught the first-year shiur (class) in Ner Israel for several years, until he moved to Washington Heights. When Rabbi Ruderman grew old, he became blind but still held a siddur when davening. Rabbi Ruderman led the yeshiva for 54 years until his death when Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, his son in law, took over.[2] Rabbi Ruderman was rosh yeshiva, while his brother-in-law, Rabbi Naftoli (Herman) Neuberger took care of the financial side. Together, they built it into one of the largest yeshivas in America, producing thousands of rabbis, educators and learned laymen.

Rabbi Ruderman was also involved in many aspects of Jewish communal life outside of the Yeshiva. He was a member of the Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel and the chairman of the Rabbinic Advisory Board of Torah Umesorah.


Rabbi Ruderman's death on July 11, 1987, the 14th of Tammuz, followed less than 18 months after the deaths of Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. Rabbi Ruderman was one of the last surviving roshei yeshiva who came to America from Lithuania early in the 20th century.

His son-in-law, Rabbi Weinberg, who married his only child, Chana, succeeded him as rosh yeshiva of Ner Yisroel[3] until Rabbi Weinberg's death in 1999.[2]

Rabbi Weinberg's wife, Chana, died on January 23, 2012.[1][2]


Around 1926, Rabbi Ruderman published his only written work, Avodas Levi. The Sefer Avodath Levi Project to preserve his legacy has been in progress.[4] Posthumously, his students have published two volumes of his teachings: ethical insights based on the weekly parsha named Sichos Levi, and lectures on the 19th century work Minchas Chinuch and other Talmudic and halachic insights in Mas'as Levi.


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