The Hendon Adath Kehilla is greatly saddened at the sudden Petirah of their Emeritus Rov, Rabbi Mordechai Knoblewicz זצ”ל, on Monday 25th January 1982, Rosh Chodesh Shvat 5742.
The profound sense of loss was most keenly felt when, at the לוויה, hundreds of mourners filled the streets and followed the procession on the way to the Shul. Upon arrival, the Oron was driven into the courtyard, where it paused for a minute of silent reflection in front of the open and illuminated windows and doors, through which the נפטר had entered daily for many years into his beloved בית הכנסת and בית המדרש.
Rabbi Knoblewicz was born on the 28th February 1900 in Dobri, Kalish, Poland, the son of saintly parents. After years of learning in the Beis Hamedrash at Dwort, near Lodz, as the pupil of the Klei Chemdoh, Rabbi Meir ben Plotzki זצ”ל, he went to Germany after the First World War, where he spent one year in Halberstadt before coming to Hamburg. Here he continued his learning at the Yeshiva, then led by the saintly Rav Rabinow זצ”ל, combining it with some secular studies, satisfying his thirst for knowledge in Chochmas Haolam. During that time, he also came under the influence of the great leader of Ashkenazic Jewry, Rav Yosef Carlebach זצ”ל, the last Chief Rabbi of Hamburg, whom he greatly admired. The set up and life of the Orthodox Kehillos in Ashkenaz and their Baalei Baatim very much impressed the young Rabbi Knoblewicz and he never failed to stress this and speak about them in his later years.
After he married in Altona in 1926, he went from Hamburg to Dortmund, Westfalia, where he had obtained a position as teacher at the Talmud Torah of the Orthodox community there. He was soon appointed Headmaster and built up the Talmud Torah. He left Germany in 1938 and came to England.
For 25 years, from 1940 until his retirement in 1965, Rabbi Knoblewicz was the Rov of the Hendon Adath Yisroel and in that time, built up the Congregation, together with the lay leaders of the day into one of the foremost Orthodox Kehillos of London and indeed, of the United Kingdom. But not only was he the uncontested מרא דאתרא of the community, he was the teacher and educator in Torah to hundreds of boys of the Congregation, preparing them in our Talmud Torah to Yeshivah standards and he was their guide into the Middos of אהבת התורה ויראתשמים. As a pedagogue, he had no problems of discipline in lessons. His simplicity and sincerity won him the respect and Derech Eretz of every pupil, whatever his age.
When at retiring age he handed over the reins of Rabbonos of the Congregation to his illustrious successor, there was one field from which he did not withdraw and that was the education of the youth. In the last 15 years, he continued to teach hundreds of boys, particularly in the 6th form Yeshiva stream of the Hasmonean Boys Grammar School, preparing them for Yeshiva. As our Rov, Rabbi Pinchos Roberts שליט”אsaid in his moving tribute at the קבורה, these were his children and teaching and guiding them was the major part of his life and this he did until a few weeks before his passing.
His Ahavas Habrios had no limit nor had his Ahavas Yisroel and love of Eretz Yisroel. He followed the day to day developments in the State of Israel with the keenest interest and the increase of Torah life and influence of religious Jewry in Israel, filled him with great joy, whilst any international setback of the State caused him deep dismay.
During his office as the Rov of the Hendon Adath Yisroel, Rabbi Knoblewicz wrote a Pshat “באר מרדכי” on the Sefer מטה משה, which was first published in 1958. In his הקדמה, he expressed deep thanks to Rabbi Dr Solomon Schonfeld for helping him to be saved, ‘בעזרת ה, and to come to this Country.
Rabbi Knoblewicz was engaged in Torah learning day and night. His Chochmas Hatorah was enormous, his knowledge of Shas and Poskim vast and his versatility in Jewish History, great. He was possessed of a fine intellect, never forgetting what he had once learned, heard or read. He was also a great store of knowledge on secular subjects.
Alas, פה המתגבר בתורה, the mouth overflowing with Torah is suddenly silenced and our Kehilla feels the poorer that our Emeritus Rov is no longer amongst us.
May his Neshomo be a Meilitz Yosher for Mrs Knoblewicz TLCT”A, for our Community and for Klal Yisroel.
T N Z B H
S S Hirsch
Hendon Adath Yisroel Congregation.