Memory Lane: Rav Yerachmiel Kumin

Memory Lane: Rav Yerachmiel Kumin

Sometime in the 1930’s, a scion of Lita’s illustrious Torah families, graduate of its elite yeshivos, and personal secretary to the Chofetz Chaim—in Poland, and continuing his service to the yeshiva in its Lower East Side office—settled in Boro Park. 

Rav Yerachmiel Kumin was born in the year 1886, in the Polish town of Delyatycze (in the area of the Mir, Radin, and Baranovitch) to his father Rav Yisroel Yitzchok, a graduate of the Mir, who spent his life as Magid Meisharim in various shtetlach around Lita and Poland (during different stints, he was a collgue of the legendary American Rabbonim, Rav Yaakov Yosef of New York, and Rav Moshe Chaim Rabinowitz of Brownsville). “When I was young, I found among my father’s letters an approbation from Rav Zalman Sender Shapira (a grandson of Rav Chaim Volozyner) to Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spektor, lauding my father’s greatness in halacha and agadah,” he later wrote.  

In 1906, he was in a hamlet outside Kiev when a pogrom took place. For three days, he hid out in an attic, from where he could watch the terrible atrocities against the town’s Jews. The terror impacted him, and he knew that his end was near. “He sent a messenger to bring me from Eishishok, where I weas learning in the Kibbutz. I was struck by how clear-minded he was, focused on where he was going. He penned a letter to his grandson, Avrohom Kalmanowitz (son of his daughter Maita), imploring him to beg his Rebbe, Rav Yoel Shorin to beseech the heavens on his behalf, even at that dire hour. Rav Yisroel Yitzchok passed away a short time later.  

He married Rochel Bloch, and settled in Radin, where he was the personal secretary for the Chofetz Chaim, writing his letters, carrying on his correspondence, and speaking on his behalf. His daughter Celia (Bash), who was born in Radin would recall her many interactions as a young girl with the Chofetz Chaim, until he sent the family to America, where they continued to work on behalf of the yeshiva at its New York office. 

Boro Park 

1923 was a year that saw a tremendous wave of Eastern European Jews fleeing to America—especially from the regions of what is today Belarus, which saw terrible upheaval and suffering during WWI and its aftermath. This was when Rav Kumin arrived in America, alone at first— with his wife and four children following later. At that time, his last address is at Rynel 34, Radun, Pinsk region, Poland. A testament to his ardent Radin connection is the signature of Rabbi Moshe Meir Yoshor—author of the only biography of the Chofetz Chaim during his lifetime—appears on his immigration affidavit. 

Reb Avie Gold’s family came to Boro Park in 1923, and he grew up near Rabbi Kumin on 46th Street. He vividly recalls the sign in Rabbi Kumin’s window—reading: “all Rabbinical Functions Performed.” And Erev Pesach, an addition sign would be posted: “Mechiras Chofetz/siyum bechorim.” 

Rebbetzin Rochel Pessin, a daughter of Rav Meir Pinsky, and his Rebbetzin Elka who was a daughter of Rav Avraham Kalmanowitz—whose mother was a sister of Rav Yerachmiel Kumin relates that after the passing of his wife, Rav Kumin would frequent the Pinsky home (on the ship’s manifest of Rav Avraham Klamanowitz’ trip to America in 1928, the address of his uncle Rabbi Kumin is given as his destination. His place of birth is given as Deliyatich, the residence of his maternal grandfather Rav Yisroel Yitzchok Kumin). 

He authored the two volume Karnei Or, derashos on the parshiyos, and was niftar 22 Av, 1962, following a quarter century in Boro Park of yesteryear.  

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