Rabbi Aaron Winter, 69, fostered Jewish life in Chesterfield

Rabbi Aaron Winter

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

Rabbi Aaron Winter, spiritual leader of Tpheris Israel Chevra Kadisha (TICK), an Orthodox synagogue in Chesterfield, died Thursday, Oct. 4. He was 69 and had resided in Chesterfield since arriving here to take up his rabbinic duties at TICK in 1989.

Rabbi Winter was born in New York City on Jan. 21, 1949, the son of Sidney and Sarah Reitman Winter. He was married to Chana Rudensky Winter. They had eight children and many grandchildren.

Before coming to Chesterfield, Rabbi Winter held prior positions in Richmond, Va. and Phoenix. He studied under Rabbi Henach Leibowitz, the revered rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, where he received his smicha (rabbinic ordination). He also received smicha from HaRav HaGaon Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. 

Under Rabbi Winter’s leadership, TICK established the Chesterfield community eruv and built a full-service, state-of-the-art mikvah. Most recently, he established the Chesterfield Community Kollel, bringing together highly educated rabbis with members of his congregation and the overall Jewish community.

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TICK President Dr. Keith Mankowitz said he had been close with Rabbi Winter for nearly 30 years. 

“We are deeply saddened at the loss of our beloved leader and teacher,” he said. “Rabbi Winter was involved in the lives of every TICK member in a very warm, loving way helping and advising every family.”

Rabbi Winter is also credited with having spearheaded the drive to bring to Chesterfield the Missouri Torah Institute, a high school for boys affiliated with the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva of New York. The thriving yeshiva includes a post-high school Beis Madras program, and educates students not only from St. Louis, but from across the United States.

“Rabbi Winter made the impossible happen,” Mankowitz said. “He created the Chesterfield Torah Community and transformed the lives of the men, woman and children of the Tpheris Israel Chevra Kadisha community into more observant Jews.”

Rabbi Winter’s wife, Rebbetzin Chani Winter, is a beloved educator, known as “Morah Chani” by the hundreds of students that have walked the hallways of the H. F. Epstein Hebrew Academy of St. Louis. She is respected not only as a teacher but also as a role model for the women of the community.

In a statement issued by TICK, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Winter were praised for having “instilled in our community the true Torah values and have been instrumental in creating the close knit, Torah-based community we are privileged to experience at Tpheris Israel Chevra Kadisha Congregation.”

A local funeral service was held last week at TICK, with Rabbi Menachem Greenblatt officiating. In his eulogy to Rabbi Winter, Rabbi Greenblatt noted that he and Rabbi Winter had been friends for 30 years. He praised his wife Chani for her loving concern and care during the past two painful years of Rabbi Winter’s illness. 

“The sun has set at mid-day,” Rabbi Greenblatt said. “Rabbi Aaron Winter, a man so full of vigor has been taken from us. This dear friend of mine of 30 years was in touch with the world of tradition as well as with the everyday concerns of the world. He always spoke eloquently on every topic. He built this community (at TICK) step by step and brick by brick.”

Greenblatt took note of the fact that Rabbi Winter was a strikingly tall person. “There is a story about a clock that was placed very far up in town and was always dependable to be accurate. If the clock was set too low, people could tamper with it and change it to the wrong time. Rabbi Winter, like that clock, was set very high. He helped set the watch for our entire community and we knew we could always count on him to be right.”

Greenblatt added that Rabbi Winter’s leadership transferred the small community of Chesterfield into a major hub of Jewish learning and wisdom. 

“Just as the small villages in Europe where great rabbis taught were in some ways more impactful to the Jewish community than large cities like Paris, Berlin or Moscow, so did Rabbi Winter place Chesterfield on the Jewish map of great Jewish activity, teaching and wisdom,” he said. 

Survivors, in addition to his wife, include his eight children: Rabbi Aryeh Winter, Menachem Winter, Dov Winter, Rabbi Moshe Winter, Yaakov Winter, Dovid Winter, Fagie Bienstock and Hadassah Finkelstein.

Burial will be at the Mount of Olives Cemetery in Jerusalem.