"Ein menachem loh mikol ohaveho — We have no
Menachem; all of those who so loved him can find no comfort."
These were the words of the Telzer Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Chaim
Stein in his tearful hesped on HaRav Menachem Kohn
zt"l of Cleveland, who was killed tragically in a car
accident on Monday August 21-27 Av.
Rav Menachem was the embodiment of a talmid chochom
whose life was one long song of devotion to the ideals of
Torah, avodoh and gemilus chassodim.
Rav Menachem's simple love of learning and his ability to
squeeze out every available minute in the day for limud
haTorah and mitzvos, were well-known in Cleveland and to
all who knew him elsewhere. The full extent of his avodoh,
yiras Shomayim, and gemilus chassodim, will never
Despite his greatness, Reb Menachem was completely
unpretentious. He saw nothing remarkable about himself and
felt as if he were just another yungerman trying to
fulfill the dictates of the Torah. Never did he realize that
he had become the very person whom he sought to emulate.
Reb Menachem Kohn was born 42 years ago in Los Angeles to Mr.
and Mrs. Yosef Yitzchok Eizik Kohn. His parents were both
Holocaust survivors who had moved to Los Angeles after the
war, and had rebuilt their lives and achieved success.
Menachem was the ben zekunim, born after three older
His father, who had been close to the Satmar Rov before the
War, continued his relationship with the Satmar Rov on
American shores. Menachem inherited the middoh of
hisdabkus to tzaddikim and talmidei
chachomim from his father, and throughout his life he
attached himself to great tzaddikim and talmidei
chachomim. He always maintained a close relationship with
the Admorim of Satmar. In addition, he was supremely devoted
to his father's minhagim. His living and learning in
the Telshe Yeshiva for so many years in no way dulled his
enthusiasm for the rich mesorah to which he was
He entered Telshe Yeshiva at the age of 14, following in the
footsteps of his brothers. For the next 28 years, his
neshomoh became bound to the yeshiva, its roshei
yeshiva and talmidei chachomim. He had an extremely
close relationship with HaRav Chaim Stein, never making a
major move without consulting him first.
In his high school years he became very close to the
mashgiach of the mechina, HaRav Anshel
Menachem always felt that he could and should learn from
everyone. He attached himself to anyone who could possibly
imbue him with a modicum of ruchniyus and, in his
humility, he always felt himself to be lacking.
Eighteen years ago, Rav Menachem married Chaya Gittel, the
daughter of Reb Dovid Aryeh Friedman, rosh hakahal of
HaRav Menashe Klein's shul and a prominent mokir
Together they built an exemplary Torah home in Cleveland. His
wife was his greatest supporter. Not only did she assume the
task of running the household so that he could devote his
time to learning, but she always encouraged him to do
One chavrusa who learned with him each morning at 6:00
a.m. recalls that when he was out of town he wanted to
continue his learning by telephone. However he was hesitant
to call so early in the morning for fear of awakening Mrs.
Kohn. When she heard about his hesitation, she said that she
was happy to receive a call at that hour for the furthering
of her husband's learning.
Torah and Avodoh
Any description of the life of Reb Menachem Kohn has to begin
with Torah. Not only was Reb Menachem a true talmid
chochom, but he was a person who was constantly striving
to grow in his learning. Learning for so many years only
added to his desire to conquer new vistas in learning.
Reb Menachem learned in the Telshe Yeshiva, living in the
nearby community of Wickliffe for many years. A number of
years ago he moved to Cleveland Heights.
A great rosh yeshiva once said that a masmid is not
only measured by how many hours he sits over a sefer, but
even more by how he utilizes every minute of the day to the
fullest. Reb Menachem Kohn was such a masmid. Besides
learning the major sedorim in the yeshiva, he kept
himself busy from 6:00 a.m. until the very late hours of the
night with numerous small learning sedorim. His
morning began at about 6:00 a.m. when he would daven and then
learn. During his short breakfast break he had a learning
seder on the telephone with a baal habayis. He
also learned Daf Yomi daily with a chavrusa for many
years and he merited finishing Shas twice.
HaRav Yehuda Blum, rov of the Kehal Yereim of Cleveland where
he davened every morning, related at the levaya
that Reb Menachem was the very last person to leave the
shul and lock up each night. Nevertheless, he had
still another seder at home afterwards!
Throughout the years, Reb Menachem penned his own
chiddushei Torah. A number of years ago he published
two seforim, one on masechta Beitza and the
second on masechta Moed Koton. He called the
seforim Ateres Ovi, in memory of his father. At the
time of his petiroh he was in the middle of writing
his third sefer.
Just a day before the accident which took his life, Reb
Menachem went to Monroe to daven at the tziyun
of the Satmar Rebbe zt"l on his yahrtzeit.
He also went to visit the current Satmar Rebbe. The Rebbe
gave him a brochoh for ashirus. In response Reb
Menachem exclaimed, "This brochoh for ashirus
please bestow on my mother so that she may continue to
support me in my learning. As for me, please give me a
brochoh for yiras Shomayim and hatzlochoh
Reb Menachem displayed extraordinary mesiras nefesh
for Torah. He could have accepted at any time a lucrative
position in the family business. However, "nafsho choshkoh
beTorah." Torah is what gave him happiness and
At the levaya, his brother recalled that Reb Menachem
dealt with his learning as if it were a job. The family had a
yearly gathering in New York to daven at their
father's kever on the morning of his yahrtzeit.
Reb Menachem would invariably go back to Cleveland for
the afternoon learning seder. When his brothers asked
him why the rush, he would say, "I have to go back to my
Similarly, when he would travel to New York for a family
simchah, even if the simchah was on Wednesday night he would
return to Cleveland and not stay for the weekend. If he was
asked why, he would reply, "I would love to stay, but I have
Torah learning was his job and it had to be performed with
the utmost sense of responsibility.
His chavrusas related that whenever he would travel in
the summer, they would maintain their sedorim on the
telephone. His Daf Yomi chavrusa had learned the Daf
Yomi with him late Sunday night, just hours before the fatal
accident. His early morning chavrusa related that
after his last baby was born several weeks ago, Reb Menachem
felt that he could not daven vosikin because he wanted
to help take care of the baby and other children during the
early morning hours. Instead the chavrusa came to his
house after having himself davened vosikin, whereby he
and Reb Menachem, while holding the newborn baby, would
immerse themselves in their daily Torah learning. As they
were learning, the various children in the household would
awaken and wander downstairs. Reb Menachem would rise, wash
them, get them something to eat and immediately return to
learning exactly from where he had left off.
His devotion to Torah was extraordinary. However, it was
never at the expense of his family. The amazing thing about
him was that he was such a zoriz that he simply found
time for everything. Despite learning with ten chavrusas,
he still managed to accomplish the duties of husband and
father. He would do the daily car pool; every Friday morning
when his wife would awaken, the potatoes were already peeled
for the kugel; on motzei Shabbos, after Havdalah, he
would take off his jacket and wash the Shabbos dishes!
One family member related that if Menachem finished packing
the car before a trip and still had ten minutes left, he
would grab a sefer and learn, or write down one of his
chiddushim or a dvar Torah that he had heard
from someone else.
Reb Menachem was so me'urav im habriyos, so geshmak
. . . He loved people and was beloved by all. His high-
pressure schedule never made him act as if he was under
One of his brothers-in-law said, "When he came to our home in
Boro Park, I felt as if it was a yom tov. He was so alive, so
lebedig. He was much older than I, but he had the
energy and enthusiasm of someone years younger!"
When he was a young boy in Los Angeles, the Ribnitzer Rebbe
is reported to have given him a brochoh that he should
not require too much sleep. That brochoh was
fulfilled. Even when he had to go to sleep later than usual,
he would invariably wake up at his regular time.
His humility was simply amazing. He truly believed that he
was completely unremarkable. He would often be heard
commenting, "I am a pashute Yid" or "I am an am
ho'oretz" . . . He had a tremendous middoh of
seeking out and striving for the truth. He would go anywhere
to "grab" a bit more yiras Shomayim.
When he would be in the New York area, he would thrive on the
tishen of Chassidishe Rebbes. Despite that he was
himself an accomplished baal halochoh, he would
constantly call prominent rabbonim to discuss many sugyos
Reb Menachem engaged in a tremendous amount of chesed,
much of it far removed from the spotlight. Reb Menachem
would invariably be the first to write a check and get things
rolling for a new cause. His zerizus in chesed
was similar to his zerizus in all aspects of
He loaned large sums of money. Often he would lend the money
through third parties so that the recipients of the loan
would not even know from whom the money had come. When he saw
a person having difficulty repaying a loan, he would simply
never say a word about it again.
One yungerman related how he had approached Reb
Menachem about a person who had come from Eretz Yisroel to
America to seek medical treatment for his son. "When I told
Menachem the story, he became so emotional, thinking about
the person's plight, that tears sprang to his eyes. He then
wrote out a very large check that may have been beyond his
Every year Reb Menachem would spend Pesach in Boro Park with
his in-laws. This past Pesach was the very first Pesach that
he stayed home and conducted the Seder himself, with
his own minhagim.
Reb Menachem was a supremely devoted father who invested much
time and effort into each and every one of his boys and
girls. When his children were young, he would have tutors
learn with them. A couple of years ago, however, he decided
that he wanted to teach them himself. He rearranged his
entire schedule to learn with his children daily.
Monday 27 Av, as he was driving in the Catskills, his car was
involved in the accident that took his life. The heart-
rending levaya was held that very night in the Shomer
Hadas Chapel in Boro Park.
Hespedim were delivered by Rav Boruch Hirschfeld, Rosh
Kollel of the Kollel in Cleveland Heights where he learned
the past few years; Rav Illowitz, the Shamshaner Rov, who is
a relative; Rav Yitzchok Sorotzkin, Rosh Yeshiva of the
Lakewood Mesivta and his former Rebbe in Telshe; Rav Yehuda
Blum, Rov of Kehal Yereim in Cleveland; Rav Chaim Stein, Rosh
Yeshiva of Telshe Cleveland; Reb Dovid Aryeh Friedman, his
father-in-law; Reb Shaul Aryeh Kohn, his brother and his 13-
year-old son, Aharon Avrohom (Ari). He was buried in the
cemetery in Deans, New Jersey next to his father.
Reb Menachem Kohn leaves behind his mother, three brothers,
his wife and nine children, the oldest of whom is 17 and the
youngest who is just a few weeks old.
It is proper to end with the following story.
Once, after coming home from a levaya he asked a
friend a favor, "Please, when my time comes, I don't want to
be considered a tzaddik because I died."
Indeed, no one would say that Reb Menachem is considered a
tzaddik because he died; rather, he was a tzaddik
because of the very way he lived. Yehi zichro