||R. Dov Berish b. Jacob Weidenfeld (1881-1966), Chief Rabbi of Tchebein (Trzebinia), Poland. He was born in Grymalov. His father died before he reached the age of bar mitzvah, and he was brought up by his elder brothers. In 1900, he married Yakht, the daughter of Israel Joseph Kluger of Trzebinia, where he lived for some time. He was a hasid of the rabbi of Husyatin and of R. David Moses of Chortkov. He was very devoted to R. Hayyim Halberstam of Zanz.,p> In 1918, he became dayan of Trzebinia and rabbi in 1923. There he established a yeshivah, Kokhov MiYaakov. During the Second World War, after taking refuge in Lvov, he was deported to Siberia in 1940 and lived for a time in Bukharia. In 1946, he settled in Israel, where his wife died in 1947. He then married Reizel, the daughter of R. Moses Lieberman of Kosice. He became the head of the yeshivah Hayyei Olam and then established his own yeshivah Kokhov MiYaakov. His principal work of Jewish law is titled "Dovev Meisharim (Pt. 1, Trebin, 1937; reprinted with Pt. 2, Jerusalem, 1958)
R. Yehezkel Abramsky (1886–1976), talmudic scholar, was born in Lithuania. He studied at the yeshivot of Telz, Mir, and Slobodka as well as under R. Hayyim Soloveichik of Brisk. He achieved a reputation as a profound talmudic scholar and active communal worker. During World War I and the Russian Revolution he wandered in Russia and applied himself to learning, lecturing, and strengthening religious life. He was appointed rabbi of Slutsk and Smolensk. In 1928 R. Abramsky and R. S. J. Zevin published Yagdil Torah, a periodical dedicated to strengthening Torah study in the unfavorable conditions of the Soviet Union. In 1930 he was arrested as a “counter-revolutionary.” R. Abramsky was sentenced to hard labor in Siberia, but, after two years, his wife and friends succeeded in obtaining his release. He went to London, where he was appointed rabbi of the Machzike Hadath congregation, and subsequently became dayyan of the London bet din. In London, his strong personality was largely responsible for the influence of traditional Orthodoxy in the official community. He was appointed a member of the Moezet Gedolei ha-Torah of Agudat Israel. In 1951 he retired and took up residence in Jerusalem, where he became a significant figure in the yeshivah world. R. Abramsky wrote Divrei Mamonot (1939) and Erez Yisrael (1945), but his scholarly fame rests on his Hazon Yehezkel, a commentary on the Tosefta, with his novellae (first volume 1925). Several of his responsa were published in London (1937).
R. Zalman b. Ben Zion Sorotzkin (1881–1966), Lithuanian rabbi and communal leader was born in Zakhrina, Russia, where his father was rabbi. After studying under his father, he proceeded to the yeshivot of Slobodka and Volozhin. His renown as a brilliant student came to the attention of Eliezer Gordon, the head of the yeshiva of Telz, whose daughter he married. After his marriage he studied for several years in Volozhin. On returning to Telz he undertook the administration of the yeshiva, displaying great organizing ability. The yeshiva building was destroyed by a conflagration, and he succeeded in rebuilding it within a short time. In 1911, after the death of his father-in-law, he was invited to serve as rabbi in the small town of Voronovo (Werenow), near Vilna, where he founded a yeshiva for young students. After some years he was appointed rabbi of Zittel in Lithuania, where he also developed extensive communal activities, particularly in founding an educational network. After the outbreak of World War I, he was forced to wander with his family into Russia and arrived in Minsk. There he devoted himself to public activity and vigorously opposed the false charges and discriminatory decrees against the Jews which were constantly being issued by the czarist government. After the war he returned to Zittel, but shortly afterward was appointed rabbi of Lutsk, capital of Volhynia (then in Poland), which had a Jewish community of 30,000, and he remained there until the outbreak of World War II. During his rabbinate in Lutsk he became renowned as one of the outstanding Polish rabbis and was one of the leaders of Agudat Israel and of Orthodox Jewry generally. When Lutsk was occupied by the Russians after the outbreak of World War II, they threatened to imprison him if he continued his activities. He was compelled to flee with his family to Vilna, where Hayyim Ozer Grodzinski, rabbi of Vilna, charged him with reorganizing the many yeshivot, most of whose students had escaped to Lithuania. He remained in Vilna until the entry of the Russian army, when he left, and after many vicissitudes finally arrived in Erez Israel. There he threw himself into communal work. He established the Va'ad ha-Yeshivot charged with the care of the yeshivot in Israel on the model of the Vilna Va'ad ha-Yeshivot (of which he had been one of the founders), and he headed it until his death. He was elected vice-chairman of the Mo'ezet Gedolei ha-Torah of Agudat Israel, and after the death of Isser Zalman Meltzer served as its chairman, a position he held until his death. He also headed the independent educational network (Hinnukh Azma'i) set up by Agudat Israel. Sorotzkin was an outstanding preacher, and many of his homilies appear in his work Ha-De'ah ve-ha-Dibbur (1937), on the Pentateuch. Toward the close of his life he published Oznayim la-Torah (1951–60), a commentary on the Pentateuch, and Moznayim la-Mishpat (1955), a collection of responsa in two parts. Some of his responsa are still in manuscript. Posthumously published is his commentary Ha-Shir ve-ha-Shevah on the Passover Haggadah (1971).
R. Ezekiel Sarna (1889–1969), rosh yeshivah in Israel. Born in Gorodok, Lithuania, R. Sarna was the son of R. Jacob Hayyim Sarna, the Maggid ("preacher") of Slonim and a close associate of R. Hayyim Soloveitchik. At an early age R. Ezekiel was accepted in the famous yeshiva of Slobodka, Lithuania, where he became known as the illui ("child prodigy") of Gorodok. He was particularly influenced by the method of study and moral inspiration of the heads of the yeshiva – the Sabba of Slobodka, R. Nathan Zevi Finkel, and R. Moses Mordecai Epstein. When World War I broke out, the Slobodka yeshivah was transferred from Kovno to Kremenchug in the Ukraine. In this period R. Sarna studied under R. Israel Meir ha-Kohen (Hafez-Hayyim). His marriage to R. Epstein's daughter accorded R. Sarna, already distinguished by his talent and profound acumen, a special status. After the war the yeshiva returned to Slobodka, where R. Sarna was appointed a lecturer.
In 1924 R. Epstein decided to transfer the Slobodka yeshiva to Erez Israel. For this purpose he sent R. Sarna to choose a site. R. Sarna selected Hebron, where he immediately became one of the heads of the yeshiva and was mainly responsible for its development. About a year later R. Finkel and R. Epstein joined the yeshiva. On the death of his father-in-law in 1927, R. Sarna was appointed rosh yeshiva, a position he held until his death. The yeshiva attracted students from all parts of the world and, at the time of its destruction in the pogrom of 1929, had 265 students. R. Sarna reestablished the yeshiva in Jerusalem as the Hebron Yeshivah. Under Sarna's guidance it again flourished. His talmudic and musar discourses achieved a reputation in the yeshiva world, and Hebron Yeshiva developed into one of the largest and most important Torah centers in Israel, continuing the educational and musar methods of the great Lithuanian yeshivot. As a leader of the Va'ad ha-Yeshivot, R. Sarna was mainly preoccupied by his own and other yeshivot, but was also actively interested in national problems. He was a member of the Mo'ezet Gedolei ha-Torah, the supreme religious institution of Agudat Israel. He held independent views on political matters, both local and foreign, and on occasion addressed his opinions to the prime minister and members of the Israel government, attempting by virtue of his personality to influence the political, social, and religious life of the state. He was instrumental in obtaining exemption from military service for yeshiva students. R. Sarna had a unique style in halakhah and musar, and published a number of books, including commentaries on R. Judah Halevi's Kuzari (1965), on the Orhot Hayyim by R. Asher b. Jehiel (1957), and on Mesillat Yesharim (1957) by R. Moses Hayyim Luzzatto. He left many manuscripts on halakhah and Jewish thought. Despite an illness in his last years, he undertook the establishment of the new yeshiva center, Kiryat Hevron, in southern Jerusalem.
R. Eliezer Judah Finkel (1879–1965), rosh yeshivah of The Mir. R. Finkel received his early education from his father R. Nathan Zevi Finkel, known as the “Sabba [“grand old man”] of Slobodka.” He continued his studies at some of the famous Lithuanian yeshivot, including Slobodka, Radin, and Mir. He married the daughter of R. Elijah Baruch Kamai, head of Mir yeshivah, who appointed him his deputy, and in 1907 he succeeded him. He devoted himself completely to the dissemination of Torah in his own yeshivah and elsewhere, revealing a talent as teacher, spiritual guide, and administrator. His great abilities were particularly manifest when the yeshivah was destroyed by fire in 1911. Within a short time he succeeded in rebuilding and extending it. His preaching and influence reached people in all sections of society. On the outbreak of World War I, he had to leave Mir and wandered throughout Russia, everywhere gathering students around him. In 1922 he accepted an invitation from the heads of the Mir yeshivah to return as its chief spiritual director. Thousands of students flocked there, making it one of the greatest in the world. When World War II broke out, he again was obliged to move from place to place with his students, finally settling in Jerusalem. There he was active in “Mir” and “Hebron” yeshivot and was esteemed as the “zekan rashei yeshivot” (the senior rosh yeshivah). The leading rabbis of his generation, including the Hafez Hayyim and R. Hayyim Ozer Grodzinski, gave him every support and encouragement. His monumental work Divrei Eli'ezer (1963) on the Talmud made an impression in scholarly circles.