Obituaries are updated regularly and archived on JN Online:
SHELLI LIEBMAN DORFMAN
War II, he was among students who re-established
the yeshivah in Shanghai. China, at that time,
could be entered without a visa. Even though
hen Rabbi Aryeh Leib Bakst, 89, of
Rabbi Bakst and 24 of his classmates had obtained
Oak Park died Jan. 8,
Canadian visas, after the Japanese
2004, he left his
attack on Pearl Harbor, they could
imprint on thousands
not leave China. They remained in
of students he taught in his nearly 60
Shanghai throughout the war.
years in Detroit.
"He often said his job of transmit-
The founding head of Yeshiva
ting the wealth of the Torah to the
Gedolah Ateres Mordechai of Greater
next generation came from his expe-
Detroit in Oak Park, Rabbi Bakst, a
rience in Shanghai," Rabbi
respected national speaker and teacher,
Rushnawitz said. "He emphasized
was considered by many as the senior
that the reason the yeshivah survived
member of the Detroit Orthodox rab-
there was because the students stayed
together — the younger students
The funeral at Har HaMenuchot
were always encouraged to learn
Cemetery in Jerusalem for Rabbi
from the older students. That spirit
Bakst, who died of complications from Rabbi Aryeh Leib Bakst
of staying together is a very big part
a stroke, was attended by 10,000 peo-
of Yeshiva Gedolah because of him."
In 1946, Rabbi Bakst married
"Anyone who studied Torah with
Esther Rogow. That same year, they
him could not help but be deeply inspired by
and the other 24 yeshivah students were able to
Rabbi Bakst and his profound love, intense study
leave Shanghai for Quebec. While there, they were
and brilliant understanding of Torah," said Rabbi
visited by the late Rabbi Avrohom Abba Freedman
E.B. "Bunny" Freedman of Oak Park. "For any
of Detroit's Yeshiva Beth Yehudah.
Torah student or rabbi, he was the gold standard
Rabbi Freedman enlisted Rabbi Bakst as a high
for pure Torah scholarship."
school teacher and rosh yeshivah (religious head of
Rabbi Bakst was known for his approachable
school) for Beth Yehudah day school.
manner. "Every day people from the community
"My father recruited both Rabbi and Mrs.
came to ask him questions and he answered with
Bakst," Rabbi Bunny Freedman said. "She, too, had
the love of Torah," said Rabbi Peretz Rushnawiti,
a tremendous impact on the school."
executive director of Yeshiva Gedolah. "The whole
Rabbi Bakst eventually oversaw the school's Bais
city was his student. .
Medrish program for post-high-school boys,
"I knew him a very long time, but I still was in
expanding it so students studied Talmud with him
awe of him. There was a certain royalty when he
throughout the day and afterwards attended college
walked — as though he represented the honor and
the aura of the Torah."
When the growing population of Beth Yehudah
Born in Poland, Rabbi Bakst was trained in the
students warranted separation from the rest of the
renowned Mir Yeshiva. With the outbreak of World school, Yeshiva Gedodah was established as an
independent high school with Rabbi Bakst as its
It was later renamed Yeshiva Gedolah Ateres
Mordechai in memory of Rebbetzin Bakst's father,
author of a book on Jewish law titled Ateres
Under the leadership of Rabbi Bakst, Yeshiva
Gedolah developed into a major institution in
Detroit's Orthodox community.
He also instituted the Yeshiva Gedolah
Rabbinical College, an ordination program recog-
nized by the state of Michigan.
He led classes and discussions in areas including
Jewish ethics — all in Yiddish. Many of his week-
day lectures were taped, transcribed and distrib-
uted, with the first of five planned volumes of his
lectures, titled Kol Aryeh (the Voice of Aryeh)
Rabbi Bakst was active on the Vaad Harabonim
— Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Detroit and a
founder of its Beth Din (religious court).
Rabbi Bakst is survived by his wife, Esther Bakst;
sons and daughters-in-law, Rabbi Yaakov and
Chumie Bakst of New York, Rabbi Yehudah and
Nechama Bakst of Oak Park, Rabbi Meyer Simcha
and Chasie Bakst of Oak Park; daughters and sons-
in-law, Libby and Rabbi Dovid Affen of Israel,
Nechama and Rabbi Yehudah Svei of Philadelphia;
numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Rabbi Bakst was the loving father of the late Reva
Interment at Har Hamenuchot Cemetery in
Israel. Arrangements by Hebrew Memorial Chapel.
Contributions may be made to Yeshiva Gedolah
Ateres Mordechai, 24600 Greenfield, Oak Park, MI
Special writer Phillip Applebaum contributed to this
`A Silent Celebrity'
SHELLI LIEBMAN DORFMAN
f the answer is: "Steven Doi Ilan," the question
must be: "Who is a man who fulfilled his lifelong
dream over and over again, every single day?"
Mr. Doilnian, 48, the six-time Emmy Award-
winning senior writer for the TV game showJeopardy,
died Jan. 4, 2004, in Los Angeles of complications from
Growing up in Oak Park, his devotion to trivia and
word games led naturally to his prime position, writing
more than 50,000 Jeopardy!dues.
"In his early teens, he started to enter radio call-in
contests," said his father, Neil Doifiiian of West
Bloomfield. "He won everything from motorcycles to
cash." During his high school years, Mr. Dorfman had
been banned from answering questions
on radio shows because he had won too
"But he hated notoriety," his father
said. "He was unassuming. In high
school, he was the 'masked announcer'
at sporting events, covering his face
because he didn't want anyone to know
who he was. Today, millions upon mil-
lions of people turn on their televisions
every day to see what he has done with-
out ever knowing him. And he wanted
it that way. He was a silent celebrity"
Mr. Doifinan "was a man who lived life
terms," said Rabbi Harold Loss of Temple
spoke at the funeral.
A graduate of Berkley High School, Mr.
earned his bachelor's degree in communi-
cations and advertising from Wayne State
University. "The day he completed his
last college class, he drove to Los Angeles
— in a car he bought with money he won
from a radio show contest," his father
said. "He left, certain he would become a
success in the game show business."
And he did, becoming Jeopardy!'s
longest-serving writer, after nearly 20
years with the show.
"He was constantly striving -- on our
program — to invent new ways of pre-
senting clues and to arrange the cate-
gories," said jeopardy! host Alex Trebek,
who spoke at Mr. Dorfman's funeral.
"He was our most imaginative and pro-
on his own
Landing his dream job did not stop Mr. Doll -man
STEVEN DORFMAN on page 87