Orthodox day schools pay tribute to Rabbi Rivkin

From left are Jeff Kopolow, Jacqueline Yocheved Rivkin Rubin, Rabbi Ben Tzion Rivkin, Rabbi Menachen Greenblatt of Agudas Israel and Rabbi Yosef Landa of Chabad of Greater St. Louis. Jacqueline Rubin and Rabbi BenTzion Rivkin, children of Rabbi Sholom and Rebbetzin Paula Rivkin, attended the siyum last week.

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

It was the kind of event that friends and admirers of the late Rabbi Sholom Rivkin say he would have loved: hundreds of students, rabbis and teachers from four Orthodox day schools filling the gymnasium at the H.F. Epstein Hebrew Academy for a siyum-a celebration marking the completion of a study of a sacred text.

The project united Epstein Hebrew Academy, Block Yeshiva High School, Torah Prep and the Missouri Torah Institute in studying the six books of Mishnah in tribute to the memory of Rabbi Rivkin, who was Chief Rabbi Emeritus of the United Orthodox Jewish Community/Vaad Hoeir of St. Louis.


Rabbi Rivkin, who succeeded Rabbi Menachem Zvi Eichenstein as Chief Orthodox Rabbi of St. Louis in 1983, and who was admired nationally and internationally for his knowledge of Torah and Jewish law, died on Oct. 1 after suffering for years with Parkinson’s disease.

Rabbi Yosef Landa, Director of Chabad St. Louis and also chairman of the St. Louis Rabbinical Council (comprising all Orthodox rabbis in St. Louis and of which the late Rabbi Rivkin was its longtime president), said the project was a fitting tribute to Rabbi Rivkin.

“It is said that when the soul of a Talmud Chochem (one who is wise in matters of Torah) has left his body, the soul is hungry to do mitzvahs, but those can only be fulfilled by the living. And so today, on behalf of his soul, the students of the four schools will do the mitzvahs of honoring his memory and discussing Torah,” Landa said.

Jacqueline (Yechoved) Rivkin Rubin and Rabbi Ben Tzion Rivkin, the daughter and son of Rabbi Sholom and Rebbetzin Paula Rivkin, were in attendance at the siyum, where a student from each school offered a reading of sacred text.

Rubin offered thanks to the students on behalf of her family. She said father embodied chesed and Torah, and told students, “Your following his example and following in his path means that he continues to live in the way that was most important to him. We thank you more than words can say.”

Rabbi Avi Greene, head of school at Epstein Hebrew Academy, recalled that while he was a student at Block Yeshiva High School, he helped Rabbi Rivkin build a sukkah.

“Just as the sukkah is open on all sides, so was the tent of Abraham, and so was the home of Rabbi Rivkin always open to the entire community,” he said. “We are also very pleased that this is the first time all four day schools serving the entire Orthodox community are here to pay tribute to Rabbi Rivkin, and we hope this will be the first of many such events.”