By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Leizer Teitelbaum, a respected Kashrus coordinator and renowned Torah scholar, passed away on Tuesday, 1 Kislev, 5781.
He was 72.
He was born in Germany to Rabbi Michoel and Rebbetzin Esther Teitelbaum in 5708 (1948). When he was 3 years old, he immigrated with his parents to the United States. They went by boat and he shared a cabin with his mother, while his father stayed in a communal men’s barracks.
After arriving in America, Rabbi Teitelbaum lived with his family in the Bronx, East Flatbush, and Brownsville before moving to Crown Heights. In 5731 (1971), Rabbi Teitelbaum married his wife, Brocha Teitelbaum, the daughter of R’ Hershel and Riva Ceitlin, pillars of the Chabad community in Montreal, Canada.
They first settled in Crown Heights when Rabbi Teitelbaum learned in kollel. Following that, they moved to Miami and then to Seattle where he was part of the Hanhola of the yeshivas there. Rabbi Teitelbaum looked after the bochurim, ensuring that they came to seder on time, and was available to answer all of their questions.
While living in Seattle, Rabbi Teitelbaum also served as a shochet for the Jewish community for many years, similar to his father in law. He also worked for Vancouver Kosher (now known as BC Kosher) and for the OK Kosher Certification, visiting various facilities, including a grape juice plant, an ice-cream factory, and a dried fruit plant.
After a 14-year hiatus from Brooklyn, Rabbi and Mrs. Teitelbaum returned to Crown Heights in 1987, where he took on a full-time position at the OK, then located in the house of its director Rabbi Bernard Levy in Boro Park.
Rabbi Teitelbaum soon gained an incredible breadth and depth of knowledge on almost every subject, from obscure chemical processes to a clear, precise understanding of complicated Halachic topics, according to the Kosher Spirit magazine.
Rabbi Berel Levine, Director of Library of Agudas Chasidei Chabad, shared a dorm room with Rabbi Teitelbaum for many years in Yeshiva. “Rabbi Teitelbaum learned Shas and poskim with great hasmoda and finished the entire Talmud while still in yeshiva,” Rabbi Levine said.
“Rabbi Teitelbaum held prominent positions in many yeshivos, but he was not able to utilize his great knowledge and understanding of halacha,” he said. “When he came to the OK, I saw right away that Rabbi Teitelbaum found his place and he was very successful, deciding complex questions of halacha and handling all of the technical aspects of kashrus as well.”
Rabbi Levine added. “Rabbi Teitelbaum has a very unique and outstanding combination of deep knowledge and devotion to the subject of kashrus, coupled with an understanding of technology and its place in kashrus.”
At the OK, Rabbi Teitelbaum began traveling extensively. His travel itinerary for Annual Visits (yearly executive inspections) was arranged so that he would return to the same area many times during the same trip. During each return trip to an area, Rabbi Teitelbaum would make surprise visits to facilities in the area and check up on their compliance with OK policies.
One of Rabbi Teitelbaum’s early memories was his first trip on behalf of the OK – supervising a new fish production in Korea. “In Korea, they work an 11 hour day, including Shabbos. I was late (due to flight problems) on my first day at the factory, and I discovered the workers already packing fish with a kosher symbol. I had to tell the workers to remove the kosher symbol from those packages. I also realized that if the workers packed the kosher fish before I got there, they must have also packed the kosher fish without a mashgiach every Shabbos!”
Since that first trip, Rabbi Teitelbaum has traveled all over the United States and Canada, as well as to India, Japan, Australia, China, Chile, Russia, Ukraine, and many countries in Europe. The computer system at the OK has over 3,000 inspection and set-up visits logged in for Rabbi Teitelbaum.
While he had a unique ability to think outside of the box, Rabbi Teitelbaum did not leave anything for the last minute. He was punctual and made sure to take care of important matters immediately as was evident throughout his 40-year career at the OK.
On one Tuesday afternoon, a report in his name came via fax to the OK office. It was dated the next day, Wednesday morning because Rabbi Teitelbaum had sent the fax from Australia where it was already a day later. “The office staff had to wait a day to enter the visit into the computer system because Wednesday had not yet arrived in the US,” the Kosher Spirit magazine reported.
Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, the Kashrus Administrator of OK who passed away this past year, once said about him: “Rabbi Teitelbaum is one of the biggest experts in kashrus today. He has the unique combination of deep understanding of both the halachic and technical aspects of kashrus.”
A devoted chossid of the Rebbe who had true yiras shomayim, Rabbi Teitelbaum helped teach and train many young rabbis at the OK, sharing his extensive knowledge in all areas of Torah and by being a shining example himself.
In addition to his vast expertise in the field of kashrus, Rabbi Teitelbaum is also trained in shechita and safrus, enabling him to write and check mezuzos, tefillin and Sefer Torahs.
He also served on the Board of Directors of Educational Institute Oholei Torah, a premier Chabad-Lubavitch yeshiva which his father founded.
He is survived by his wife Bracha, children Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Teitelbaum – Los Angeles, CA and Mrs. Chava Tzivia Matusof – Crown Heights; and grandchildren.
The family requests that his mother-in-law Mrs. Riva Ceitlin of Montreal should not be informed of his passing.
The Levaya will take place Wednesday, passing Oholei Torah at 1:00 PM, 770 at 1:15 PM and will stop at OK Kosher on the way to burial.
Shiva will take place at 1402 Carroll St.
Shachris: 9:30 am
Mincha 4:15 pm
Break: 12-3:30 pm
Can visit until Until 9 pm.
His son will be sitting on Monday, the last day of Shiva, in Sherman Oaks, CA.
Please bring masks.
Baruch Dayan Ha’emes.