HANC continues to mourn the loss of our beloved former dean, Rabbi Moshe Gottesman z”l, Moshe ben Asher Zelig. The occasion of Rabbi Gottesman’s shloshim is a time to reflect on his legacy at HANC and throughout our community.
Rabbi Gottesman was an integral part of HANC for 60 years — as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, dean, and member of our Board of Directors. During his tenure, following the example of our founder Rabbi Meyer Fendel, HANC developed its educational programs, expanded its campuses and solidified its well-earned place as a premier educational institution for Torah and general studies on Long Island. Under the direction of Rabbi Gottesman, HANC students grew to be valuable contributors to Jewish and American life.
But Rabbi Gottesman’s true impact runs much more deeply than a recitation of his impressive resume. Rabbi Gottesman personified HANC’s core values, tirelessly infusing thousands upon thousands of students, faculty and parents with his heartfelt and infectious love of Torat Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael, Medinat Yisrael and Klal Yisrael.
Rabbi Gottesman ensured the transmission of Torat Yisrael by hiring high caliber limudei kodesh faculty who brought a new level of excellence to the Torah learning at HANC. He led by example, radiating a fervor for learning and sharing Torah that was evident in his beaming smile when a student offered a dvar Torah or reached a milestone in learning. This enthusiasm reverberates through generation upon generation of HANC students who proudly count themselves among Rabbi Gottesman’s disciples.
Academic excellence was not enough — one also had to practice sterling middot and character, which Rabbi Gottesman exemplified. His central oft-stated credo was hakarat hatov — appreciation for the good in our lives. HANC students were reminded of this precept at nearly every assembly and event as Rabbi Gottesman thanked others for their contributions, often for work done behind the scenes.
Rabbi Gottesman’s love, devotion, and passion for Eretz Yisrael, cultivated in his youth, was intertwined with his dedication to Medinat Yisrael. We eagerly learned from Rabbi Gottesman’s retelling of the history of Zionism, from Israel’s early settlements to its flourishing in our modern day. He continued to bond with many of his HANC students in Camp Sdei Chemed in Israel or on his other frequent trips.
In his unceasing love for Klal Yisrael — for every Jew and, indeed, every person — Rabbi Gottesman was second to none. He served as a fierce advocate for all students to receive a Jewish education, whether or not they had the money or the background.
Rabbi Gottesman worked tirelessly behind the scenes to raise tuition funds for those who could not afford to come to HANC. If a prospective student lacked a yeshiva background and now wanted to learn, Rabbi Gottesman ensured that HANC’s New Opportunities Program would find room and provide a welcoming introductory platform for a yearning student to study and achieve. Special-needs children also found a home at HANC, in the Sunday Smile Program. This weekly program was Rabbi Gottesman’s signature project. His goal was to ensure that all students had the opportunity to be exposed to Torah learning, in a Torah environment.
Rabbi Gottesman was an advocate for each of his students, working closely with them to ensure their success. It is no wonder that many students remained in touch, and that he regularly participated in their smachot, sometimes even as a proud mesader kiddushin.
Rabbi Gottesman’s support extended beyond HANC students, as he also was a loyal supporter and friend to the HANC faculty and served as an inspiration to innumerable HANC parents. Rabbi Gottesman inspired all those around him to embrace Torah learning and values.
Alumni memories of Rabbi Gottesman are legend. His pushup challenges, his joy-filled visits to early childhood classes, his encouragement of students to pursue freedom for Soviet Jewry, his Friday morning bowling excursions with students, and his greeting each person with his earnest smile and full attention — the common thread running through all their vivid recollections is that he sought to instill in them his love of life and his love of Torah.
In Parshat Shemot (3:9), Hashem declares, “And now, here, the cries of B’nei Yisrael have come to me.” In all that he did for HANC and the larger Jewish community, it is clear that Rabbi Gottesman understood the importance of these words. He was deeply moved by the needs of so many throughout his nearly 60 years at HANC, and worked tirelessly to address and resolve them.
We are grateful, we publicly express our hakarat hatov, for all that Rabbi Gottesman has given to HANC throughout many generations. We all have benefited from his wisdom, caring, and his unflagging sense of mission. May his soul be bound in the bond of everlasting life.