Hundreds gathered in Crown Heights Motzei Shabbos to remember R’ Yossel Tevel obm, one year after his passing.
At an event held in the evening between 3-4 Shvat, R’ Tevel’s birthday (3 shvat) and yahrtzeit (4 shvat) were marked with emotional tributes from family members and friends.
A recurring theme of the evening was that each person in the packed room considered themselves a close friend, or even extended family member, of the beloved man known for his charitable acts throughout his life.
Rabbi Shmuel Butman spoke about the Maamar Basi Legani, which contains stories about Ahavas Yisroel, and pointed out that R’ Tevel lived and breathed Ahavas Yisroel every day. Bringing an example of the Tzemach Tzedek who ran in his Talis to help someone, and later merited to see the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Butman said that R’ Tevel personified this trait, running to help others even with great sacrifice to his own physical and spiritual needs.
Rabbi Chaim Fogelman of Crown Heights spoke of his experiences visiting Rikers prison with R’ Tevel, saying that he always did a little extra for the inmates, giving them hope and life with each visit.
Fogelman related that one day he met R’ Tevel, and he asked him if he knew how Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, who had recently been incarcerated, was faring in prison.
To his utter surprise, Fogelman related, R’ Tevel said that he had spoken with Rubashkin the day before for 45 minutes, and “he was doing okay.”
R’ Tevel was a man of action, not only of words. While Rubashkin was on everyone’s mind, only he had actually done the work to track him down and see how he was doing.
R’ Shmuel Foxman of Far Rockaway spoke of his friendship with R’ Tevel, and remarked that to him, there were no differentiations between Jews of all types.
He also praised R’ Tevel’s wife, who stood by his side and supported him all the years while he devoted his life to chesed, keeping an open home which welcomed visitors at all hours.
Dr. Moshe Gaerman of Crown Heights related that R’ Tevel was the first person he met when he came to Crown Heights, and that he had done numerous kindnesses for him throughout the years.
R’ Yossel Motchkin, a childhood friend of R’ Tevel, spoke of their close friendship and sang a few Chasidishe nigunim.
A video with photos and clips of R’ Tevel was shown, and his son Mendel Tevel spoke about his father, pointing out that the event was taking place in the same room where he had organized blood drives for many years, one of the many causes he was involved in.
“My father was a deeply ‘pnimiyusdike’ Chossid,” he said. “Whatever his special qualities were that were known to others, there was 10 times that about him which was hidden. I, as his son, know that.”