Rav Avrohom Ginzberg zt”l
In the late 1950's, the illustrious Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim which was then in Williamsburg Brooklyn had outgrown it's small facility & was looking for a larger facility in a new neighborhood. After an exhaustive search they found a building on Kessel Street in Forest Hills Queens that had been owned by the Forest Hills Jewish Center after they had moved to a larger facility. While the Yeshiva had only one purpose in the use of the facility & that was for a Yeshiva, there were many Baalei Batim who had davened in the shul & wanted to remain there as well.
The Rosh Yeshiva Rav Henoch Leibowitz zt"l decided that not only would he continue to maintain a shul for the community to daven in, he would also give them one of his closest students who had just recently received his semicha Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov Ginzberg zt"l to serve as their Rov.
What was an experiment of matching this young Rov with a large group of older Baalei Batim, turned into a loving relationship between Rabbi Ginzberg zt"l & the baalei batim that spanned over 60 years. He was dedicated to them heart & soul & they to him. Congregation Chofetz Chaim of Forest Hills never grew into a large shul, but more then 2 generations grew up in the shul & Rabbi Ginzberg zt"l was an integral part of their lives during all those years. He was there for them at every simcha & at every painful time & was on call 365 days a year 24/7. They learnt together, davened together, laughed together & at times even cried together. Every member of the shul knew in his heart that Rabbi Ginzberg zt"l was there for them & would always be there for them.
There were members who had long ago moved to Florida or to Eretz Yisroel & never lost their connection to Rabbi Ginzberg zt"l. It was not uncommon for him to officiate at a levaya for a former member who had moved away 20 years earlier, but then left strict instructions that only Rabbi Ginzberg zt"l should officiate at their funereal. Even in his last few years, when he was not so well, he would still be there for all the members which he considered family. Many still remember that at the age of 75 years old, he would come to shul at 4;00am in the morning in order to shovel the snow from the steps so that people would be able to walk into shul without difficulty. He was an incredibly humble man.
The very morning of his untimely passing at the young age of 83, he was in shul standing at his regular spot where he had stood for close to 60 years & then his parting words to his "family" as he was leaving to have what was considered a minor procedure, was "please keep the minyan going". His last words entered the hearts of the mispalalim that morning & they have continued despite the odds to indeed keep the shul going. There has not been even one morning in the last close to 7 years that there was not a morning minyan in shul. It is an incredible tribute to his legacy & to the relationship that he had with this wonderful small group of special Yidden. May Rabbi Ginzberg zt"l's memory be a blessing to everyone & may he be a meilitz yosher to his family, his extended family at Cong Chofetz Chaim & to all of Klal Yisroel. Yehi Zichro Boruch.