The Admor of Vishnitz led thousands at the levaya
Sunday afternoon of R' Shlomoh Yaakov Gross zt'l, a
veteran Agudas Yisroel askan in Eretz Hakodesh, a
former Agudas Yisroel MK, and a prominent member of Vishnitz
chassidus, who passed away at the age of 94.
He was born on the fourth night of Chanukah 5669 (1908) to R'
Avrohom and Rivkoh in the town of Bamesiv in the district of
Marmarosh, and studied under HaRav Menachem Mendel Hagar of
Wishwa, Vishnitz. At a young age his talents and proclivity
for activism were directed toward kodshei Shomayim. As
a young avreich he worked to promote Torah and
strengthen yiras Shomayim in Romania. He was inspired
by his great rosh yeshiva who, in addition to being
mechanech and the rosh yeshiva, also took care of the
material aspects of the yeshiva -- in addition to his duties
as rov of Wishwa.
At the young age of 27 R' Shlomo Yaakov was appointed
secretary of Agudas Yisroel in Romania, a task that entailed
great responsibility and had a widespread impact. In
Tchernovitz he was a central and prominent activist in
preparing Agudas Yisroel members for aliyah
("hachsharah"). He also helped R' Chaim Meir Kahana
edit the Agudas Yisroel journal, Das Yiddishe Vort. At
the time R' Shlomo Yaakov specialized in writing feuilletons
that mocked religious transgressors.
During the Holocaust he lost his young wife (nee Einhorn) and
two children, Hy'd, accepting the din with
love. After the war he set up large orphanages for Holocaust
survivors in Grosswardein. Not only did he ensure they
received a proper Torah education, but he also showed amazing
dedication in his efforts to help them marry with dignity.
In 5710 (1950) he came to Eretz Yisroel, where he married his
wife Henyoh tchy', who stood by his side devotedly
until his last day. In Eretz Yisroel he longed to start a
town founded on pure Torah ideals. Through tremendous efforts
he founded Kfar Gidon, an Agudas Yisroel settlement with
fabulous Torah and educational institutes. He also made
considerable contributions to opening Agudas Yisroel trade
schools in three locations--Tiberius, Rechovot and Tel Aviv--
which he saw as life rafts for youths, particularly from
Oriental countries, who were drifting away from
In 5717 (1957) he was elected MK on the Agudas Yisroel list
and served as Deputy Knesset Chairman as well. In the Knesset
he fought tenaciously over kodshei Yisroel and Shabbos
observance, making himself heard and conveying the message of
Torah-true Judaism clearly, intrepidly and without
When a storm raged 32 years ago over plans to hold car races
on Shabbos Kodesh in Ashkelon, R' Gross warned the Knesset
that this was liable to demonstrate to the entire world Jews
are capable of treading Shabbos underfoot, choliloh.
During the battle, when the entrepreneurs behind the idea
demanded half a million liras in guarantees in the event of
losses resulting from avoiding chilul Shabbos, among
the signatories on the guarantee form signed at the last
moment on a Thursday night were R' Shlomo Yaakov Gross and
ylct'a Rav Yehuda Meir Abramovich in the name of
Years later, out of his great concern for kovod
Shomayim, he initiated legislation to allow individuals
to avoid taking oaths in Israeli courts.
He also took an active role in Agudas Yisroel's campaigns to
block recruiting girls into the IDF, to prevent autopsies and
to defend the yeshivas, and helped promote pure
chinuch and the setup of Hamodia, where his
articles appeared for many years until recently.
During his final years he was confined to his bed due to
illness, but nevertheless he continued to engage in Torah and
tefilloh and tzorchei tzibbur even in his
nineties. His mind remained clear and he would share
nostalgic memories of the Wishwa beis medrash, which
was led by the Admor of Vishnitz.
On Monday, in his modest home in Bnei Brak, he returned his
soul to his Maker.
The levaya set out from the large beis medrash
in Kiryat Vishnitz and on to Yerushalayim. At the Shamgar
Funeral Area a large gathering was on hand to accompany the
deceased to Har Hamenuchos.
R' Shlomo Yaakov Gross, z'l, is survived by his
daughter, the wife of HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Wolner, a
dayan in Tel Aviv; his sons, R; Nochum Yehuda and R'
Avrohom Eiver; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren
following in his path.