Gifter, Mordechai (1915-2001)
Rabbi Mordechai Gifter was born 1915 in Richmond, Virginia. He was raised in Baltimore, MD where his father owned a grocery.
Rabbi Gifter was a product of the Baltimore City Public School System and received his religious education in after school programs. As a child he authored articles on some of the most complicated issues in Jewish Law. They were published in the Talmudic law Journal of Rabbi Frank, Jerusalem, Israel.
As a young man Rabbi Gifter studied in the Rabbi Isaac Elchonon Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University in New York, NY.
His Uncle was the renowned Dr. Samuel Saar, Dean of Yeshiva University. In 1932 at Dr. Saar's advice, Rabbi Gifter traveled to Lithuania to study in at the Telshe Yeshiva.
Rabbi Gifter immediately was accepted for admission and placed in advanced classes. Rabbi Gifter developed a strong bond with Rabbi Zalman Bloch, the dean of students at the yeshiva. He eventually became engaged to Rabbi Bloch's daughter. Prior to the wedding Rabbi Gifter returned home to the United States to visit his parents in Baltimore. He planned on returning to Lithuania for his wedding and to resume his studies.
When it became obvious that he would be unable to return due to the political climate of the late 1930s, he arranged for his bride's family to join him in the United States. Only his bride came, the family chose to not abandon the community in its time of greatest need. The Gifters married in Baltimore, with Mrs. Gifter's family still in war torn Lithuania.
Rabbi Gifter was appointed to the pulpit of the Nusach Ari-Lubawitz Synagogue in Northwest Baltimore. He soon became well known as an invigorating speaker and refined orator. His lectures and addresses became popular throughout the Baltimore area. His national reputation began to grow as well. In addition to his rabbinic position Rabbi Gifter was appointed an adjunct lecturer at the Ner Israel Rabbinical College. He was the first native Baltimorean to lead a congregation in the city.
In 1943 Rabbi Gifter moved to Waterbury, CT and assumed a rabbinic pulpit in that community. In 1944 Rabbi Gifter moved to Cleveland, OH to join the faculty of his alma mater, the newly re-established Rabbinical College of Telshe, which was moved from Telshe, Lithuania to Cleveland. The original school and Telshe Community were almost completely destroyed by the Nazis and Lithuanian Militia. In 1954 he was appointed Associate Dean and in 1964, he was appointed Dean together with Rabbi Baruch Sorotzkin. The Rabbinical College of Telshe was founded in 1875 in Telsiai, Lithuaniaby Rabbi Eliezer Gordon, the Chief Rabbi of Telsiai. ...
In 1976 Rabbi Gifter moved to Israel and founded a branch of the college in the Jerusalem area, leaving Rabbi Sorotzkin in charge of the Cleveland campus.
In 1979 following Rabbis Sorotzkin's passing, Rabbi Gifter returned to the United States to lead the Cleveland campus. He never recovered from the tremendous loss that he felt for his first love, Israel and the Israeli branch of the school. To display his sense of loss, Rabbi Gifter did not return to his on campus residence, but moved into small quarters in the students' dormitory. He never allowed himself to live comfortably since leaving the Israeli project.
For many years he led the presidium and leadership council of the Agudath Israel of America. He was one of the electrifying speakers in the Jewish world. He published numerous many books on Jewish Law, philosophy, theology and bible. He was a frequent contributor to many scholarly journals including the Western Reserve University Law Review Case Western Reserve University is a private research university located in Cleveland, Ohio. ...
Rabbi Gifter maintained a relationship with his first faculty position at Ner Israel Rabbinical College, returning to Baltimore yearly to visit family and friends. Yeshiva Ner Yisrael: Ner Israel Rabbinical College also known as NIRC and known colloquially as Ner, is a yeshiva in Baltimore, Maryland founded in 1933 by Rabbi Yakov Yitzchok Ruderman who was a key disciple of Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel of the famous Slabodka yeshiva in Lithuania, Europe. ...
Rabbi Gifter suffered from numerous ailments for many years prior to his passing in 2001.
He is survived by his wife, three sons and three daughters. His son Rabbi Zalman Gifter is Dean of the Rabbinical College of Telshe in Cleveland. His son-in-law Rabbi Ephraim Eisenberg served as Lecturer and Associate Dean of Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, MD.