HaRav Nochum Zev Dessler zt"l, head of the Orthodox educational institutions in Cleveland, Ohio and the son of HaRav Eliyohu Eliezer Dessler zt"l, the grandson of the Alter of Kelm and thus a descendent of the founder of the Mussar Movement, HaRav Yisroel Salanter zt"l, passed away on Sunday after 18 Shvat in his ninetieth year.
Growing up under the tutelage of his father and the Alter of Kelm, he was infused with Torah and fear of Heaven. He studied at Yeshivas Vilkomir, later transferring to Yeshiva Telz under HaRav Eliahu Meir Block zt"l and HaRav Chaim Mordechai Katz zt"l.
When the Nazis came to power in Europe, his rabbonim, HaRav Bloch and HaRav Katz, managed to flee to the US, and later he joined them in Cleveland.
Through extraordinary siyata deShmaya he persuaded the consul of the US Embassy in Lithuania to open the embassy and issue a visa to the fiancee of HaRav Mordechai Gifter zt"l. Opening the backdoor, the consul stamped her passport with the last visa the embassy issued before closing.
Seventy years ago, in 5701 (1941), he arrived in Cleveland, where he immediately began founding Torah institutions in the city. For three years he served as a rom in the mechinoh of Yeshivas Telz-Cleveland. He won the admiration of the students, whom he instilled with Torah, halacha, yiras Shomayim and upright character to last a lifetime.
During his youth he exchanged many letters with HaRav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky zt"l and with his father. His letters are printed in HaRav Eliyohu Dessler's chidushim on Shas.
In 5704 (1944) he founded a network of educational institutions for Cleveland's religious community. He established kindergartens, a grade school, a yeshiva ketanoh and a girls seminary where thousands have studied over the past 65 years. Many of these students went on to become roshei yeshivas, roshei kollelim, dayonim and rabbonim around the world.
Early Sunday morning he returned his soul to his Maker and the levaya was held the next day in Cleveland. On Tuesday he was buried at Har Hamenuchos Cemetery in Jerusalem.
HaRav Nochum Zev Dessler zt"l is survived by his sons, HaRav Reuven, HaRav Eliyohu Eliezer and HaRav Simchah Zissel; by his sons-in-law, HaRav Emanuel Shiff, rosh yeshiva of Beis Shraga in Monsey, HaRav Eliyohu Brudny, one of the roshei yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir who was married to his daughter Pessia until she passed away two-and-a-half years ago, and HaRav Dovid Simchah Rappaport; grandchildren and great-grandchildren perpetuating the spiritual legacy he set forth during his lifetime.