Rebbetzin was a frum pioneer in 5 Towns ‘midbar’


Rebbetzin Tzirel Tzirel Kamenetzky, a”h, who with her husband of 68 years, Rabbi Binyamin Kamenetzky, brought Torah to “the midbar of Nassau county,” was niftar over Shabbos and was eulogized on Sunday at the school they built, the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett.

An overflow crowd filled South Shore’s beit knesset and an adjoining room where the service was broadcast; kohanim assembled outside.

The Rebbetzin, 89, had been ailing for a number of years.

The Kamenetzkys were pioneers in the establishment and growth of Orthodox Judaism in the Five Towns and remained pillars of community. Woodmere did not have a daily minyan before they moved there from East New York in 1956, at the urging of her father-in-law, Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky. Rabbi Herschel Billet of the Young Israel of Woodmere began Sunday’s service with a recitation of tehillim; Rabbi Kamenetzky was founding rabbi of the now 55-year-old shul.

At the lavaya, Rabbi Kamenetzky recalled that after the couple moved to the Five Towns, any thought of returning to the more familiar and yiddishe Brooklyn was pushed aside with the knowledge that “the Torah was given in the midbar [and we] have an obligation” to bring Torah to a place where it was lacking.

Now that the Rebbetzin has gone to her menucha, “the world doesn’t stop, [it] continues with Torah and chesed [as we] wait for Moshiach, every day, every moment.”

Rebbetzin Kamenetzky was born in 1926 in Ostrow-Kalishin in Poland to Rabbi Pinchos Eliyahu, zt”l, and Rebbetzin Basha Spiegel, a”h. Her grandfather, Rabbi Naphtoli Aryeh, zt”l,” was a descendant of the Chozeh of Lublin. They immigrated to the Bronx in 1929.

A son-in-law of the Rebbetzin, Rabbi Yitzchok Knobel, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Gedolah of the Five Towns, recounted, in a kavod acharon at the levaya, how Tzirel Kamenetzky arrived in “the spiritual wasteland of America” when she was 3 years old. Because there was no bais Yaakov, she had to attend public school. “Her bais chinuch” was her family, he said.

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