By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Leibel Groner, who served as the Rebbe‘s secretary, came to the home of the Rapoport family in Brooklyn, NY, to comfort them on the passing of their father and grandfather Rabbi Reuvein Rapoport OBM.
Over the years, Rabbi Groner fielded questions to the Rebbe from Rapoport regarding his work as Director of Production at the Tofutti kosher ice cream company in New Jersey.
But their friendship dates back to the 1940s when the two were classmates in the first class of the newly founded Central Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch at 770 Eastern Parkway.
Rabbi Rapoport was born in 1930 in Kaminetz-Podolsk, a small town in Russia, and was raised in Houston, Texas, where authentic Jewish education was not available.
When his father, Avraham Rapoport saw an advertisiment in the newspaper for a Yeshiva in Brooklyn, he contacted the head of the Yeshiva who was the Rebbe Rayatz himself.
Rapoport said he had an 11-year-old boy that he would like to send to learn in a Yeshiva, but that he cannot afford tuition or travel expenses. In response, the Rebbe Rayatz sent money for a train ticket to New York.
The parents then brought the young boy to the train station, and his mother, Hinda Rapoport, pinned a note to her son’s lapel. It read, “Grand Central Station.” Reuvein Rapoport arrived in New York City 3 days later.
Throughout his journey, people would take him by the hand and as the train stopped, lead him to the right train which would take him to his final destination, family members recounted the story this week.
Rapoport was one of the first students at 770, along with Rabbi Groner. Their teacher was Rabbi Yitzchok Kolodny. Speaking with the family at the Shiva home, Rabbi Groner shared memories of his old classmate.
Up until his 87th birthday, Rabbi Rapoport was known for his love for learning, whether it was Chitas, Gemarah, or any other subject, as that was his main “Koch” and enjoyment, his family member related.