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January 17, 2003 - Image 72

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-01-17

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LEGACY from page 58

merit of meeting Rabbi Freedman," said Michael
Eizelman of Oak Park. "Even though I only knew
him for the last three or four years, and even with-
out the connection many others had, I felt how
much of a powerhouse he was in this community. -
It was an honor to be able to participate in the
learning in memory of Rabbi Freedman."
Eizelman chose a tractate of Talmud and then
asked Rabbi Alon Tolwin of Aish HaTorah Detroit
to study it with him so he could "learn it more
intensely." Eizelman had once-a-week sessions with
Rabbi Tolwin.

An Honor Not Sought

Clockwise from top left:

Rabbi Avrohom Abba
Freedman with a fifth-grade
class at Yeshiva Beth

Rabbi Avrohom Abba
Freedman helps a student
load the bus for a field trip.

Rabbi Avrohom Abba
Freedman with his son
Rabbi E.B. "Bunny"
Freedman in Israel

Why They Learned .




was Rabbi Freedman. I never met such a person
Participants in the siyum included many of the
before — so sincere with such a true belief in
thousands of students the rabbi taught in his nearly HaShem. He changed, not only my life, but the
60 years in Detroit. In addition to being a teacher
lives of my children, my family. I didn't know
at the Yeshiva, he also learned with adult students,
about Yiddishkeit, but now I know enough to be
including those who attended the Monday night
able to study Torah in memory of Rabbi
Chumash (Torah) class he taught for more than 50
Those learning for the siyum also included mem-
For the last 20 years, the rabbi was instrumental
bers of Rabbi Freedman's own family.
in introducing Russian immigrants to Judaism. He
"I have been learning all year for my grandfa-
did so both in the classroom and by taking bus- -
ther," said 13-year-old Shalom Freedman -of Oak
loads of students to out-of-town conventions and
Park. "I took a portion of the Mishnah that I had
by combining recreational activities with study.
already learned with a private teacher — and after
"When I came to this country 11 years ago from
my grandfather passed away, I started learning it
Russia, I did not know anything about Judaism,"
again. I realize every time I sit down to learn it
said Yosef Shumulinskiy of Oak Park. "The first
reminds me that it is for him."
time I came to Young Israel of Oak Park somebody
Shalom also knows that others who are learning
introduced me to Rabbi Freedman and that day he
are doing so with Rabbi Freedman in mind. "This
invited me to his house for a Shabbos meal."
shows how great people feel about him," he said.
The rabbi later asked Shumulinskiy to attend a
"They are willing to take their time and dedicate it
to him."
Sunday class he held for new Americans. "I went
but I hardly understood what was going on,
Not everyone who learned in Rabbi Freedman's
because I didn't know much English," he said. "I
memory knew him well.
wanted to quit, but something was calling me. It
"I didn't grow up Orthodox, but I did have the

The last thing Rabbi Freedman ever looked for was
an honor.
"He was a selfless, dedicated, God-holy person,
who wanted nothing for himself, only for God,"
said Rabbi Cohen, who is a participant in the
learning program.
"If you go to Google [search engine] on the com-
puter, there is no mention of my father until his
death," said Rabbi E.B. "Bunny" Freedman of Oak
Park. "He was such a humble, unassuming person
who didn't have an overbearing presence, who did-
n't cast a giant shadow in his lifetime. He never
accepted honors offered to him."
Rabbi Bunny Freedman remembers his father
falling asleep during a rabbinic talk at a family bar
mitzvah in St. Louis. "When my father was nudged
by my brother, he woke up to hear the rabbi say,
and you should grow up to be like your grandfa-
ther.' As soon as he heard that the rabbi was talk-
ing about him, my father went back to sleep."
Always shying away from being recognized for
his deeds, a mysterious disappearance of a newspa-
per article highlighting Rabbi Freedman — that
once hung on a Yeshiva wall — was later traced to
the rabbi himself.
"My father never did anything so that he would
be honored for it," Rabbi Bunny Freedman said.
"He just wanted to do God's work. Once I asked
him what his mission was in life and he told me it
was to live life in a way that would should how
beloved God is."

The Sol' um

It is fitting that the Siyum HaTorah dinner, mark-
ing the completion of the Torah learning, will be
celebrated at one of the Yeshiva's facilities.
In 1944, Rabbi Freedman became Yeshiva Beth
Yehudah day school's first teacher. He moved with
his wife, Temme, to Detroit from his hometown of
Brooklyn after his teacher Rabbi Shraga Feivel
Mendlowitz, a leader in the establishment of
American Orthodox day schools, approached him
to teach at the Yeshiva. Rabbi Max J.
Wohlgelernter was waiting in Detroit, hoping to
turn the Yeshiva from an afternoon and Sunday
school into a day school, under the direction of
Rabbi Simcha Wasserman.
Rabbi Freedman and fellow teacher Rabbi
Sholom Goldstein are credited with many of the
successes of the Yeshiva and other Torah-based
institutions in Detroit.

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