Thousands of gedolei Torah, roshei yeshivos, bnei
Torah and many of his talmidim took part in the
levaya of HaRav Eliezer Sorotzkin zt"l, a
ram at Yeshivas Telz in Cleveland and the founder of
Telz-Stone and its various institutions in the mountains near
Jerusalem, who passed away on 28 Av at the age of 92.
Eliezer Sorotzkin was born on 7 Sivan 5675 (1915) to HaRav
Zalman, the gavad of Zeshtil and Lutzk and later
chairman of Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah in Eretz Yisroel. His
mother, Soroh Miriam, was the daughter of HaRav Eliezer
Gordon, the gavad of Telz and Eliezer's namesake. He
had a twin brother, Dovid, who died in childhood.
When he was a year old World War I broke out and the family
fled to Minsk, where he lived in the same house as the Chazon
Ish, who often held him on his lap while he was learning.
Eliezer attended the local talmud Torah in Zeshtil and
went on to study at the yeshiva ketanoh under HaRav
Chorgin. In 5689 (1929) when his father was asked to serve in
the rabbinate of Lutzk, Eliezer transferred to Yeshivas Beis
Yosef in Lutzk under HaRav Moshe Reisz.
As the skies over Europe turned dark with the horrors of war
about ten years later, he was at home in Lutzk and could not
return to Mir for Elul Zman. Instead he traveled to Vilna,
where he worked indefatigably to bring his parents and
siblings to Vilna and to save many other Jews. He went to
Telz for the winter zman, where his relatives served
as ramim. On Erev Pesach 5700 (1940) he fled to
Shanghai with talmidim from Yeshivas Mir and spent the
remaining years of the war at the yeshiva there.
On 15 Sivan 5702 (1942) he married the daughter of HaRav
Eliyohu Meir Bloch, who later became rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas
Telz-Cleveland. At the wedding, which was held in the main
hall of the yeshiva in Shanghai, HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz
served as their shushbin. While they were still in
Shanghai they had a daughter, a second daughter who passed
away a few weeks after she was born, and a son, whose bris
was held in the heichal of the yeshiva. Maran
Hamashgiach HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein served as
During these years his penchant for acts of chessed
started to come to the fore. Once, for example, when one of
the students had to be hospitalized with an infectious
disease, he arranged his release and brought him to his home
to nurse him back to health.
In Elul 5705 (1945) he sailed to San Francisco, where he
boarded a train for Cleveland. Upon arriving in Cleveland all
of the students of Yeshivas Cleveland turned out to greet
him, led by his father-in-law, HaRav Eliyohu Meir Bloch. This
was his first meeting with the survivors of the war from his
family. He joined the kollel associated with the
yeshiva and gave shiurim on occasion. In light of his
ability to form ties with people he was often asked to engage
in fundraising projects for the yeshiva, whose material
foundation was credited largely to his efforts. Later, when
Germany sent reparation payments earmarked for the yeshivas,
Maran HaRav Aharon Kotler zt"l chose him to distribute
the funds at his discretion.
In 5713 (1953) the yeshiva fell into dire financial straits.
Rav Eliezer went to South America for an extended period,
where he succeeded in putting the yeshiva back on its feet.
During this trip he stopped in Santiago, Chile, where he
found the kehilloh divided following a dispute between
the heads of the community. Rav Eliezer stayed until he had
made peace between them. Since he was compelled to remain
away from home for such a long time he moved his family to
Eretz Yisroel for a year and a half and in the summer of 5715
(1955) went to visit them and to participate in the fourth
Knessia Gedoloh of Agudas Yisroel.
After his father-in-law, HaRav Bloch, passed away that year
he began giving a regular shiur at the mechinoh
run by Yeshivas Telz, and even gave mussar talks.
In 5723 (1963) when a fire burned down the yeshiva buildings
claiming the lives of two students, he spent six months in
New York raising money for the construction of new buildings,
which stand to this day.
In 5919 (1959) he traveled to South Africa to conduct a
fundraising drive and wound up strengthening the local
yeshiva, Yeshivas Beis Yitzchok, as well. During one of his
subsequent trips to South Africa he was notified that his
mother had become a burden on his father, HaRav Zalman
Sorotzkin, and that she should be moved to a convalescent
home for a short period to allow his father to regain his
strength, but nobody was able to persuade her to go of her
own accord. HaRav Eliezer took a detour to Eretz Yisroel
rather than traveling directly to South Africa, and was
able to convince his mother. Upon his departure his father
said HaRav Eliezer's efforts saved his life.
One night, as he was traveling down a dark road, his driver
fell asleep and the car went off the road and down a slope.
Miraculously he survived the accident, though he was
seriously injured. Before he was extricated from the car he
thought to himself that he had merited the blessing for
longevity in the Torah, "Honor your father and your mother
that your days may be long" (Shemos 20:11).
In 5725 (1965) when HaRav Mordechai Katz passed away he began
to give a shiur in the yeshiva gedoloh and
continued for four years.
In 5727 (1967) he began his life's work: founding Kiryat Telz-
Stone in Israel. While his father-in-law was on his deathbed
he expressed his desire to establish Yeshivas Telz in Eretz
Yisroel. Over the years various efforts were made, but none
of them proved successful. Though he hoped to settle down to
focus on his shiurim and his talmidim, he felt
an obligation to carry out his father-in-law's wishes.
After consulting with the Ponevezher Rav it was decided to
build the yeshiva in the mountains near Jerusalem. "Telz-
Stone will one day become a part of Jerusalem," predicted the
Ponevezher Rav. HaRav Eliezer undertook widespread lobbying
in order to start the community, and in Sivan 5727 (1967) a
site was located. The head of the Yehuda Regional Council
strongly opposed the construction of the chareidi community,
but eventually formed a close friendship with the founders of
Telz-Stone, helping them any way he could.
Only months after the Six-Day War came to an end the land was
purchased. After making arrangements for the development work
he returned to his shiurim at Yeshivas Telz-Cleveland,
but it soon became clear the plan could not be carried out
unless he set up residence in Jerusalem. So in 5769 (1969) he
moved his family to Jerusalem's Bayit Vegan neighborhood, and
in 5737 (1977) moved to Telz-Stone, the first chareidi
community set up in Eretz Yisroel during that period.
Yeshivas Telz was set up as soon as the community got
started. The yeshiva was headed by HaRav Mordechai Gifter and
HaRav Boruch Sorotzkin, his brother. Two years after it was
begun, Telz-Stone had some 200 families, Torah institutions,
a kollel and in 5744 (1984) Yeshivas Meor Eliyohu was
started by HaRav M. Bloch, followed by Yeshivas Meor Eliyohu
HaRav Eliezer Sorotzkin was a tremendous baal chessed.
His sons referred to him as a "gaon" in carrying out
acts of chessed. He had close relationships with
gedolei Yisroel, especially HaRav Shach zt"l,
who he consulted with on a regular basis.
He was also very close to his father, the gavad of
Lutzk, until the latter's final days. Although HaRav Eliezer
was sick for the past several years, his mind remained
He passed away on Motzei Shabbos Re'eh. When the
levaya set out from the square outside Yeshivas Mir-
Jerusalem he was eulogized by HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi, one of
the roshei yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir, the deceased's son HaRav
Yosef, his son-in-law HaRav Mordechai Goldschmidt and his
grandson, HaRav Eliyohu Meir Goldschmidt.
HaRav Eliezer Sorotzkin zt"l is survived by HaRav
Yosef Yehuda Leib, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Meor Eliyohu in
Telz- Stone, HaRav Avrohom Moshe, manager of Yeshivas Telz-
Stone, HaRav Ben-Tzion, a renowned psychologist in the US,
and HaRav Tzvi Mordechai, a ram at Yeshivas Chochmas
Shlomo in Jerusalem. He is also survived by his sons-in-law,
HaRav Shlomo Eisenberger, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Telz-
Cleveland, HaRav Mordechai Goldschmidt, the moro
de'asra of Mishkenos Yaakov in Beit Shemesh, and HaRav
Eliezer Mordechai Briskman, a ram at Yeshivas Mir, as
well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren following in
his path of Torah yir'oh and chessed.