HaRav Yitzchok Kulitz zt'l, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem
for over two decades, passed away last week at the age of 81
following a protracted illness.
HaRav Kulitz was born in Lithuania on 18 Sivan 5682 (1922) to
HaRav Eliyohu Dovid Nachman, rov of the town of Alita and
head of the town's Knesses Yisroel branch and one of
Lithuania's leading rabbonim. HaRav Eliahu Dovid was very
close with the Chazon Ish and learned with him
bechavrusa for many years. When his son was only
three, Rav Eliyohu passed away and when Yitzchok he was just
10 years old his mother sent him to Yeshivas Slobodka. Among
his rebbei'im during this period was HaRav Zevulun
On Rosh Chodesh Elul 5693, when he was 11, his family moved
to Eretz Yisroel and settled in Yerushalayim. His mother sent
him to learn with the mechina of Chevron Yeshiva which
was then located in Chevron.
When he was 14 his friends advised him to relate his
chiddushim to HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer. The young
bochur went to his home one the evening. HaRav Meltzer
received him graciously. Ever since that visit the two often
engaged in pilpul.
Later he formed bonds with gedolei Yisroel far older
than he because at Chevron he learned with them despite his
His rebbe, HaRav Yechezkel Sarna, was very fond of the
young man and even helped his family. During the war of 5708
(1948), as shells fired by the Jordanian army were falling on
Jerusalem, HaRav Sarna brought the entire Kulitz family into
his home for an extended stay.
During R' Yitzchok's time at Chevron the yeshiva was full of
renowned talmidei chachomim who had a major impact on
the young man and later he would regularly visit the homes of
maranan verabonon. As a young yeshiva bochur he
would sit and learn constantly. Every night as midnight
approached, HaRav Aharon Cohen, later the rosh yeshiva, would
come to the beis midrash to send him to bed.
HaRav Kulitz received semichoh from HaRav Meltzer
before he got married. HaRav Kulitz also grew close to Maran
Hachazon Ish, zt'l, who had been his father's
chavrusa. After Rav Kulitz sent him his
chiddushim, at the Chazon Ish's request, the two would
often exchange letters on Rav Kulitz' learning.
He married Gittel Tovoh a'h, the daughter of HaRav
Yaakov Shimshon Auerbach, a prominent Karliner chossid from
Tiberius. After his engagement the Chazon Ish sent him a
letter of congratulations with the blessing that Rav Kulitz
should have the merit to study in accordance with his pure
At the age of 25 he was appointed a ram at Yeshivas
Chevron, replacing Rav Aharon Cohen, who was unable to reach
the yeshiva from the Central Region due to the war then
raging. Afterwards he refused to take a permanent position at
the yeshiva, despite entreaties by his rebbe, HaRav
He moved to Bnei Brak, where the couple had a meager
subsistence. The Rebbetzin devotedly raised the children
without distracting Rav Kulitz from his Torah study,
preparing them for lives of Torah and instilling in them
Rav Kulitz davened in Yeshivas Ponovezh and formed
strong bonds with the Ponovezher Rov, HaRav Shmuel Rozovsky,
HaRav Dovid Povarsky and Maran HaRav Shach, zt'l.
Graced with a fine speaking ability, Rav Kahaneman once asked
him to speak for the yeshiva's board of governors.
Rav Kulitz taught Torah until 5715 (1955), when he was
appointed a dayan at a Tel Aviv beis din. He
sat on the bench for many years, during which his rulings set
an example for many other dayanim. In 5739 he was
appointed to the Beis Din Godol and in 5741 (1981), after the
petiroh of HaRav Betzalel Zolti, he was made rov of
Rav Kulitz would deliver his Shabbos Teshuvoh droshoh
at Beis Knesses HaGra in the Jerusalem neighborhood of
Shaarei Chessed, where his listeners included Maran HaRav
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt'l. One year, after
suffering a heart attack, Rav Kulitz announced he would be
unable to give the Shabbos Teshuvoh droshoh. On the
Thursday night preceding Shabbos Teshuvoh, HaRav Auerbach
came to his home and said, "I heard the Rav would not be
delivering his droshoh due to his weak state of
health, so I've come to hear it in his home."
Rav Kulitz left his imprint on every area of life in
Jerusalem and beyond. Of particular note was his
uncompromising struggle to protect Jewish graves in Jerusalem
and around the world. Before the reunification of East and
West Germany Rav Kulitz traveled to Hamburg to provide his
expertise as part of efforts to save a cemetery. The West
German government submitted to his halachic decisions without
In Eretz Yisroel, as well, he fought against attempts to
destroy Jewish graves. His firm stances helped solve many
problems that arose throughout the years in numerous places,
including French Hill, Givat Zeev, Maaleh Adumim Road, Begin
Road and the Modi'in area.
Never raising his voice, his resolute insistence on truth
overcame whoever confronted him regarding matters of kashrus,
religion and municipal affairs. As Jerusalem Chief Rabbi he
raised the kashrus standards of the Jerusalem Rabbinate. The
improvements he helped bring about earned the Jerusalem
Rabbinate such a good reputation that all of Klal Yisroel can
unhesitatingly eat products bearing its hechsher.
He was also known for his uncompromising campaign to prevent
the entry of Reform figures into positions of authority in
Jerusalem, particularly the repeated efforts to bring them
into the Religious Council.
Rav Kulitz had the merit to maintain close ties with
gedolei Yisroel. Maran HaRav Shach, zt'l, was
very fond of him. Rav Kulitz also had a special friendship
with Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, shlita, who
would direct all of the halachic problems regarding Jerusalem
to him and would meet with him frequently to discuss various
As a dayan he was known for his sharp perception.
Without unneeded words he knew how to identify the point of
contention and to pursue the underlying truth. Soft-spoken
and pleasant, his noble manner radiated all around him.
A few years ago he retired from civic life and stopped
answering halachic questions due to his weakness. During this
difficult period when he would discuss Torah he would regain
some of his strength and speak animatedly. He published a
sefer called Minchas Eliyohu, named after his
Five-and-a-half years ago his wife passed away. Recently he
was hospitalized at Shaarei Tzedek for one month until he
returned his soul to his Maker last Thursday, surrounded by
his family members.
The levaya set out from his home on Abuhav St. in
Bayit Vegan late Thursday night with thousands of mourners.
Eulogies were given by HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, HaRav Dov
Schwartzman, HaRav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, HaRav Boruch
Shimshom Salomon, HaRav Yosef Efrati and the deceased's sons,
HaRav Yosef, HaRav Nachum, HaRav Moshe, HaRav Shlomo and
HaRav Eliyohu. The funeral procession continued by bus to Har
Hamenuchos Cemetery where the thousands of participants were
provided special lighting using fire trucks brought in by
Mayor Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky.
Rav Yitzchok Kulitz, zt'l, is survived by his five
sons, his son-in-law HaRav Moshe Rubinstein, grandsons and
other relatives following in his path of Torah and