Gifter, Mordecai

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GIFTER, MORDECAI (1916–1991), U.S. rabbi and talmudic scholar. Gifter was born in Richmond, Virginia, but he moved to Baltimore with his family, when his father realized that his son could not be adequately taught in a city with such limited Torah resources. He studied at Yeshiva College and at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (riets) in New York under Rabbi Moshe Halevi Soloveitchik. On the advice of his uncle, Reb Yehuda Leib Zer, one of the directors of the riets, a newly ordained Rabbi Gifter went to study in the Telz yeshivah of Lithuania in the winter of 1932. He became very close to the rosh yeshivah, Reb Avrohom Yitzchok Bloch. With the expansion of the Ner Yisroel yeshivah in Baltimore by Rabbi Jacob Isaac Ruderman, Rabbi Gifter was invited to teach there. In 1943, Rabbi Gifter became rabbi in Waterbury, Connecticut, and one year later, his uncles, R. Eliyahu Meir Bloch and R. Chaim Mordechai Katz, founded the Telz yeshivah in Cleveland. They asked him to join them.

Gifter moved to Israel in 1976, founding the Telz yeshivah in Kiryat Telz-Stone near Jerusalem with the support of Irving Stone, Cleveland philanthropist. However, three years later, the rosh yeshivah of Telz in Cleveland, Rabbi Boruch Sorotzkin, died, and Gifter returned to Cleveland to succeed him. He remained at Telz until his death. The growth of Telz mirrored the growth and self confidence of ultra-Orthodoxy. A gifted speaker in Yiddish and English, Gifter was known for his humility. Introduced as a gaon in a local synagogue, he spent the first part of his discourse refuting the compliment and speaking of the denigration of learning and the inflation of compliments over the generations.

Among the works he wrote were Hirhurei Teshuvah (1977), Torah Perspectives (1986), and Sefer Pirkei Moed (1992).

[Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]