February 8, 2016

Passing of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, 78, Leaves Deep Void in World of Kosher

Brooklyn, NY - The passing of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky at the age of 78 last week left a deep void in the world of kosher, as was demonstrated by the outpouring of grief from diverse circles in kashrus. Tens of thousands of people attended his funerals in Brooklyn and Jerusalem. He served as the Rosh Yeshiva (dean) of Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn. “Rabbi Belsky was an irreplaceable man,” said Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the OU Kosher. Rabbi Belsky, a brilliant Torah scholar, fulfilled many important functions within the Orthodox Jewish world but perhaps none as central as in the world of kosher. In an interview with Kosher Today, Rabbi Moshe Elefant COO of the Orthodox Union Kashrus Division, said that Rabbi Belsky’s “incredible knowledge extended well beyond Jewish law (halacha).” He added: “In great measure, we will be guided in the future with the thousands of halachic papers he wrote on kashrus issues.

Rabbi Belsky served as the halachic consultant to the OU for almost 30 years and in recent years joining Rabbi Herschel Schechter and Rabbi Menachem Genack as the highest authority in kashrus law at the agency. Rabbi Elefant continued: “His knowledge was second to none. He was a shochet and an expert in the intricacies of nikur (deveining), which he passed on to hundreds of shochtim (kosher slaughterers).” He served as the certifying rabbi for Empire for five years and was the go-between with Israel’s Chief Rabbinate when US meats were exported to Israel. Many rabbis admired his intricate knowledge of even the most complicated machinery. They credited Rabbi Belsky with raising the standards at the OU and kashrus in general.  Some said that his expertise in wildlife and kashrus was second to none. He was a major lecturer in kashrus but most importantly he was in many respects “the final authority.” He will be sorely missed.